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3 things faith leaders say as Uganda mourns boat cruise accident victims

By Male Marvin

The church is God’s first-responder team. Nothing can come alongside a person in the middle of a disaster with more comfort, understanding, and empathy than a loving family.

This world is definitely not a perfect place. Jesus told us that storms and disasters in this world are coming, but rather than blaming or pointing fingers at people who are suffering from storms, it should be our nature to be compassionate.

Many social media users equated the Lake Victoria boat tragedy that claimed several lives, with government declaring Friday a day of national mourning, to what happened during the days of Noah.

On Saturday 24 November 2018, an ill-fated boat with over 100 passengers left KK Beach in Ggaba, a Kampala suburb, late in the evening, but later capsized, killing dozens and quickly passing for a national disaster.

Media reported that most of the victims were young, affluent Ugandans enjoying a raucous end-of-year party thrown annually by businessman Freeman Kiyimba, according to Alex Niyonzima, a survivor of the capsized cruise boat.

There are conflicting accounts of what exactly happened on the boat with police continuing with investigations, although the narrative of a faulty, long-time grounded boat remains dominant, according to a statement from Parliament.

We all mourn

Alex Mutagubya, founder of Transform African Ministries and Pastor of Luzira Community Church in Kampala said he stands in solidarity with everyone that lost someone in the tragic boat accident.

“I also thank God for everyone that was rescued. I pray for you to overcome this trauma. I am thankful to all the brave men and women that ran in to rescue those who were fighting for their lives and to give other families some closure,” Pastor Alex said.

Believe on Jesus Christ today

Dominion Faith Church founder, Pastor Cyrus Geoffrey Rod who resides in Kampala with his wife Robi Rod said the entire country should learn from the tragedy and accept responsibility.

“To accept responsibility is to acknowledge that I want to be wiser next time, and this is not the end of me so let me change the way I do things,” he said.

“Who shall ever take blame so that this vice stops? Whoever died was not the worst sinner and whoever is alive is not the best saint (Luke 13:1-5). If we are alive, can we change our ways? God in His word declares in Hebrews 9:27 “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Tomorrow will be too late. There shall be no “Accidents” in heaven or hell. Believe on Jesus Christ today.

I will borrow words from our president’s speech; Let everybody take the warning from this tragedy, Cyrus said.

President Yoweri Museveni, in a Sunday message, said the boat was “unregistered, unlicensed and probably uninsured.”

Museveni said in the event that the owners of the boat “have not already been punished for their mistakes by dying in the accident”, they will face charges.

The boat, on which revellers were drinking, dancing and listening to music, sank a short distance from the shore off Mutima in Mukono District.

Survivors’ accounts indicated that during the tragedy, “people were screaming, wailing and others repenting.”

“I was only responding amen in my heart to other people’s loud prayers across the water,” singer Iryn Namubiru who survived the ordeal wrote on her Facebook page.

His is remarks following the tragedy, Worship leader and Pastor Brian Lubega took to social media saying, “Lord may you strengthen everyone that lost their loved ones.”

Tighten safety regulations

While appearing on Dream TV on 25th November, Presiding Apostle of the Born-Again Faith Federation, Dr Joseph Serwadda described the accident as “tragic and shocking” to the country and called for strict rules for water safety largely aimed at safeguarding passengers.

Dr Serwadda said government should work with other concerned enforcement agencies to tighten the regulations on water to ensure the safety and well-being of the public, sentiments that were re-echoed by Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah who told Parliament the tragedy is evidence there is fragmentation of management and administration of the water transport sector.

“There are three agencies handling this administration, Uganda Maritime which has skeleton staff; Uganda Railway Corporation and Uganda National Roads Authority. Better coordination and management are required in this sector,” said Oulanyah.

He called on government to expeditiously establish the maritime search and rescue centers and fast-track processing of the proposed Inland Water Transport Bill which seeks to improve water transport.

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