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Tanzanian army tows capsized ferry off Lake Victoria

DAR ES SALAAM (Xinhua) -- The Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) on Friday succeeded to tow off the ferry that capsized in Lake Victoria, killing more than 200 people.

Isack Kamwelwe, the Minister for Works, Transport and Communication, said the ferry was finally pulled out of the waters of one of Africa’s great lakes after eight days of a grueling task.

“President John Magufuli has commended the army, the general public and all Tanzanians for their participation during the rescue and recovery operations, and the towing off the ferry,” Kamwelwe told state-owned Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC).

The minister did not mention the final count of the death toll but President Magufuli said on Thursday that the number of people killed in the grisly ferry accident was 230.

Richard Mutayoba, the chief of navy, said the ferry was not damaged.

On Monday Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said President Magufuli had directed relevant authorities to immediately announce tenders for the assembly of a new 50-tonne ferry with the capacity to ferry more than 200 people.

He said the government has formed a seven-member investigative team of experts led by former army general George Waitara to establish what had caused the sinking of the ferry.

“I have directed the team to come up with a full report in one month’s time,” said Majaliwa.

Following the ferry accident, President Magufuli on Sunday dissolved the board of directors of the Tanzania Electrical, Mechanical and Electronics Services Agency (TEMESA), which is mandated to provide efficient and effective electrical, mechanical and electronic services, and reliable and safe ferry transport services.

A terse statement by the Directorate of Presidential Communication at State House in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam said President Magufuli dissolved the TEMESA board of directors chaired by retired army Brig. Gen. Mabula Mashauri to pave way for investigations.

At the same time, Magufuli on Monday revoked the appointment of the chairman of the Board of Directors of the country’s transport regulator, Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA), John Ndunguru.

The president also dissolved the SUMATRA board of directors following the ferry accident and several other accidents across the country that have claimed the lives of hundreds of people and caused loss of property.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Majaliwa said police have arrested a number of officials responsible for operations of the ill-fated ferry.

According to sources, the ferry, with a capacity of 101 passengers and 25 tonnes of cargo, capsized at around 1 p.m. local time on Sept. 20.

The last major ferry accident on Lake Victoria occurred in 1996 in the same region, killing at least 500 people.



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