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A young Marine tourism promoter shares safety tips and why we should utilise Lake Victoria instead of abandoning it



By Ngabonziza

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Its a tragedy that occurred on Lake Victoria, our condolences go to families that lost their loved ones and friends on the boat that capsized on 24th November 2018.

Let me share a few facts about Lake Victoria , locally known as Lake Nalubaale. Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa and the second Largest in the world after lake Superior in North America by surface area. Its shared by Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.

Its resources sustain about 30 million people and it covers an area of 68,800 kms2 .The average depth is 130 feet with the deepest point being 276 feet.

80% of its water comes from rain and the 20% comes from small streams, the biggest being Kagera River.

This Lake is a natural resource that is underutilized yet Marine tourism is an activity that sustains a number of countries like I will explain in this article.

I picked Interest in Marine tours in the year 2015 when I went for a birthday Cruise organised by a friend on the same boat that capsized. I’ve been on that boat twice!

It was fun and gave us so much relaxing views of sunsets and different Islands on Lake Victoria.

I observed , this lake is used to carry out only fishing , moving people and transportation of harvests from islands yet so many activities can be done to generate billions of Dollars.

Activities that can be developed at a large scale on this lake include , aquaculture and cage fishing.

The activities that can attract tourists with marine interests include Wind surfing , kayaking , luxury yachting , surf skii peddling, kite surfing not forgetting boat cruises as well , Island tours and excations to mention but a few.

Uganda is blessed with beautiful islands that owners have developed. slands such as Ssesse , Bulago , Samuka among many others have got resorts and villas nestled in the exquisitely beautiful nature.

Of all locations you can mention for honeymooning in Uganda, perhaps resorts like pineapple bay, Brovad sands lodge , Weaver bird , one minute south villa , Samuka island resort are some of the getaways where the word “breathtaking” can suit. All these getaways are on Islands .

Many other getaways are under construction by top Tycoons in Uganda, for instance Business man, known as Youma has been pimping his resort for more than 8 years, by the time it opens to the public It will be out of this world!

We should promote these places so that East African Citizens do not break a bank or go abroad for honeymooning.

This year, I’ve led more than 12 groups and individuals to different places using a boat, let me share crucial safety measures to observe while using a boat;

1. Have an assistant skipper.

While on a cruise, observe that the person controlling the boat is not one, health has ways of surprising us. When One skipper gets a problem, you can always rely on the second. Thats the reason why on every boat our company uses, there are two skippers behind as part of the crew.

2. Be weather Conscious .

The lake has no timetable for waves or rain and there fore, one has to observe the weather before setting off. Strong Waves can be a disaster on the lake, the boat crew and the clients have to always be willing to change the departure time due to weather changes or postpone the sailing trip. I advise postponing in case its raining and the boat you are using is not enclosed, very few boats here have a fully enclosed top, most are yachts personally owned by individuals for their leisure time.

One day , we had organised a birthday cruise for a client and waves were too strong for us to set off, observing how they were excited for the cruise and how settled they were on the boat, we could not start telling them stories, however life is more precious , you rather go late and arrive safe, we bought time, put for them music until the lake was stable then we set off. Some were annoyed due to late departure but we had to ensure safety. We reached well, they had fun and left happy.

3.Knowledge of speed limits is key according to the number on board and waves on the lake. The skipper has to be aware of that.

4. Life jackets are a must wear on a boat.

Those who have traveled with our company can testify that we ensure everyone has a life Jacket. A life jacket has to be fitting according to the weight of a person for it to be effective in case of an emergency. Some clients detest putting them on with reasons of killing their fashion or say the make them uncomfortable. In this case, what we normally do, we show them how to put it on and ensure its right beside them.

5. Two engines on board. Boat engines are full of surprises, ensure that the boat you are boarding has two engines, The value of having two engines works in two scenarios; In case one engine fails, the other can substitute, this has ever happened to us, one engine failed and we used the second until we reached our destination. The other reason is, in case people on board are very heavy than the average weight the boat carries. Boats have a capacity , for instance one of the boat our company uses mostly has a capacity of 17 people, however they can show up as 17 when the average weight per person is 90kgs , that means the boat has more weight, this extra weight can be balanced by the second engine and the boat moves normally.

6. External boat floaters.

The boat itself should have external floaters that can keep it on top in case of an emergency for it not to capsize.

7.Balancing the boat. The boat needs balance in order to move properly, when on board, its crucial to have equal weight on four sides of the boat, that’s to say, on the right , left, back and front.

8. Safety equipment.

A boat is supposed to have a complete first aid kit and emergency equipments, a fire extinguisher, a whistle, a horn, an extra dock line and a throwable floatation device.

9. Make a float plan.

A float plan is an instruction you leave with someone on the shores describing your boat, equipment, itinerary and a number of passengers on board. In case of an emergency , a float plan guides on rescue.

10. Boarding while high on alcohol is a risk. According to international coast guards, a 3rd of all boat fatalities are a result of passengers or skippers who sail while high. Even if you know how to swim, it becomes a challenge when drunk.

11. Install working boat Alarms and have a whistle on board to alert and call rescue in case of an emergency.

12. Never sail at night. Unless its an emergency , its highly risky to sail at night! Our lakes are not developed to enable night trips . That’s the reason why our itineraries always start in the morning and back before its dark or else spend a night at the island and come back the following day.

13. Know the capacity of the boat. Just like cars, boats have a capacity, its wrong to exceed that capacity a boat holds, it disturbs movements and stresses the operation of the engine which can easily cause engine failure.

14. Have a boat or Yacht insurance.

The tragedy which happened on lake Victoria is a wake up call to insurance companies to develop attractive insurance packages for boats and Yachts.

15.The passengers on board are entitled to a brief about a float plan and what they can do in case of an emergency.

16. Have enough fuel. The engines of boats look small but they are likely to be the second most consuming engines after a plane’s ! Boats consume a lot of fuel, it’s important to have enough and extra fuel on board since lakes have no fuel stations.

Some Countries that have utilised marine activities receive more tourists annually than the number of residents!

Of course we can’t compare Uganda to them because, they are bordering the ocean and we are talking about a “lake” , however. Islands , water, coastal and shore resources can be utilized the same way. The only difference is Uganda’s inability to connect to other countries beyond Tanzania and Kenya by water transport.

African countries that are taking marine environment serious include Mauritius , Seychelles ,Madagascar, Kenya , Mozambique , Namibia and their tourism in that regard is growing.

26.4% of total GDP in Seychelles is contributed by its marine tourism.

Places where the number of tourists exceed that of residents and rely on marine resources include;

Cayman islands. Here the ratio of a tourist per resident stands at 6.38 tourists per resident.

Northern Mariana Islands, 8.35 tourists per resident!

Turks and Caicos Islands , 10.4 tourists per resident!

Maldives receives 1.5 million tourists yet the population is 417,000 people. That’s to say 3.5 tourists per person .

Important to note; Uganda is a happy state, its a party nation and the emerging middle class is looking for alternative ways of having fun. Majority have lost interest in bars , lounges and night clubs that provide the same style of recreation. There is an urgent need for creative thinking and investment in the recreational industry, modern commercial Yachts , boats and Ships that can connect Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya for both recreation and transborder trade.

Appropriate use and conservation of marine , aquatic and shore resources can contribute to food security ,job creation , sustainable economic growth, climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Written by Ngabonziza .

Founder; Nziza Vacations

FB : Ngabonziza Za Ruyigi


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Blankets and Wine

Blankets and Wine event happening today



BigEyeUg Team

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Popular Kampala rapper Fik Fameica, South Africa’s Heavy K and The Ben from Rwanda are the main acts today at the Blankets and Wine event happening at Cricket Oval.

Fik has had a busy weekend as always. The rapper who was in Gulu on Friday, before he went to Jinja for the Purple party will also put on a show tonight at Blankets and Wine. Heavy K who has did a song with Kenzo is also expected to blow away revelers.

Sound Check at the venue ahead of today’s event.

The event that was postponed by organizers from 26th April to 6th May will have lots of music, fashion and entertainment for revelers.

Also on the list of performers today will be The Roots Warriors, Nu Kampala, Aka Dope Band, Dj Xzyl and Vj Spinny.

The Festival organized by House of DJs and Tusker Malt Lager. We will keep you posted.

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