OpEd, Politics

The River Nile Transport: Repeatedly Boat Capsizing Incidents with No Attention from Authorities in Eastern African Region

By Ariik Kuol Ariik Mawien

The few highlights of boats capsized and sank in South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. The ignorance to accurately determine the exact capacity (load) a certain boat can carry was the main problem threatening the River Nile transport in Eastern African Region.

For instance,

A boat carrying fuel capsized and sank into the River Nile living oil drums floating northwards within South Sudan. The incident happened on Monday 17th July 2023.

On Monday 10th July 2023, nine (09) people died, and four (04) others hospitalized at medical facility in Ugandan Masindi Port with efforts to find missing bodies, said the police. A total of thirteen (13) passengers were on board when their boat capsized and sank while on their way from northern Apac District to southern Masindi District in Uganda via River Nile.

Nine (9) years ago, on Thursday 2nd January 2014, a boat carrying civilians desperately fleeing heavy violence in Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile State in South Sudan sank while crossing the Nile River, killing some 200 people.

In August 2018, twenty-two (22) school children drowned and died after a boat sank in northern Sudan. The boat was crossing the River Nile with more than forty (40) children on board from Al-Kanisa to school in Al-Kabna, a small village located in the northern part of Sudan. Until then, most of the village dwellers directly rely on a man-made floating wooden boat to cross the River Nile.

In April 2019, a boat carrying humanitarian aid from Bor to Fangak capsized and sank into the River Nile. The boat was hired by United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to deliver supplies to internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) within Upper Nile Region, particularly Fangak area. The boat was supposed to carry 80 metric tons, according to its designed capacity, but was overloaded to 90 metric tons; an extra 10 metric tons caused a severe tragedy event.

On 28th May 2021, thirty-five (35) South Sudanese children drowned into River Nile, fifteen (15) of them instantly died and twenty (20) others survived critical conditions. The bodies of the drowned children were later recovered at Halfa Muluk Area, North of Khartoum in Sudan where incident happened.

In November 2021, ten (10) people including five (05) children from a single family died as boat capsized and sank while crossing to Malakal town from Kaka Tijaria of Upper Nile State. There were total passengers of twenty (28) people according to Africa Press (AP) News agency.

On 17th July 2022 at 10 PM, a boat swerved, overturned and definitely sunk in the middle of River Nile while tempting to avoid collision with another boat. In this tragedy, four (04) people died, and five (05) others were hospitalized according to Maj. Gen: Elia Kosta, the Police Commissioner in Bor of Jonglei State.

In April 2022, twenty-three (23) women drowned and died after a vessel capsized and sank into Blue Nile River. The vessel was carrying a total of twenty-nine (29) passengers, only six (06) people out of the total survived including captain.

Most incidents of boat capsizing during river transport were linked to overcapacity. This implies, overload was the main caused of people drowning and boats or vessels sinking into the River Nile. Therefore, the Nile Basin Countries, through their concern Ministries of Transport and Water Resources must regulate and determined the actual capacity each boat can carry while navigating the Nile. Unless, otherwise, Nile Based Nations will continue losing the lives of their dear citizens and resources if appropriate measures are not taken.

The writer can be contacted on E-mail: ariikkuolariik@gmail.com

WhatsApp: +211(0) 923 650 380.


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