Kilifi Govt Takes 5 Actions Following Watamu Boat Tragedy

Out of the three who lost their lives, two bodies were retrieved on Saturday with one more remaining...

Kilifi Govt Takes 5 Actions Following Watamu Boat Tragedy
Boat that capsized in Lake Victoria in May 2019. /TWITTER

The Kilifi County government has announced five measures it will take following an accident at Watamu whereby three lives were lost after a boat they were travelling in capsized.

In a statement dated Sunday, January 22, the county government noted that the tourist glass boat christened MV. Holiday Jabulani had carried beyond its capacity. It had capsized with 28 passengers on board, including the captain and crew.

The vessel had taken Tourists (13 Kenyan residents and 15 Non-Kenyan residents) on a snorkelling tour approximately 300 meters at sea off Garoda Beach at Watamu Marine Park on Saturday, January 21.

Boats during a rescue operation. /TWITTER

"The report further indicates, that the number of passengers onboard had exceeded the capacity of the vessel. The possibility of bad weather at the time and in the later hours of the day also contributed to the accident considering the above inappropriate condition," the statement read in part.

However, with unrelenting efforts, the county Rescue Team, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and private volunteers managed to rescue a total of 24 tourists.

Out of the three who lost their lives, two bodies were retrieved on Saturday with one more remaining, according to the county government.

"Rescue operations are ongoing. The rest were taken to the hospital for checkups and treatment for injuries incurred. All were released, with only one (1) in the hospital still receiving treatment," the statement added.

Following the accident, the Department of Public Service and Disaster Management will carry out an inspection on all boats operating along the county coastline. All boats operating along the coastline are required to be equipped with safety jackets.

In addition, no boat will leave the shores without all its occupants wearing a safety jacket and carrying within its capacity.

The Kilifi government will also increase patrons at the beach to ensure there is safety compliance, and ensure timely response to emergencies and incidents.

It will also collaborate with Kenya Marine Authority (KMA) to train more patrons on safety and emergency response.

"We urge members of the public to be vigilant and report non-compliant operators to help us ensure safety for all. The County Government of Kilifi expresses its sympathies and condolences to families who have lost their loved ones and wishes a quick recovery to those who sustained injuries," added the statement.

Malindi Sub-county Deputy Police Commander Solomon Odero affirmed that the passengers were on a boat ride. It was, however, unclear if the boat was heading for a picnic at Mida Creek. 

"The boat capsized in the morning and a rescue team from the Kenya Wildlife Service embarked on the rescue mission. They managed to save 25 people. Three people died,” he stated. Odero however, dismissed claims of overloading as the cause of the accident. 

Watamu marine national park and reserve warden Dadley Kiluhula further noted that the boat was among others that were watching dolphins in an area which has never had such an accident.

Beach attendants in Watamu further blamed the government for lacking rescue equipment, including lifeboats for use in emergency situations.

Kenyans hit the Jomo Kenyatta public beach in Mombasa, Kenya, during New Year celebrations on January 1, 2013. /PINTEREST