There is hope that the MV Nyerere ferry, which overturned in Lake Victoria on September 20 with over 220 people on board, will be recovered in a week.
The rescue team has finally turned the vessel from the upside down position that it assumed when it toppled over. The accident took place about 50 metres away from the dock at Ukara Island in Ukerewe District.
The 25-ton vessel is now lying on the side (in a horizontal position) and marine experts are striving to turn it back to the upright position.
The experts from the Mwanza-based Songoro Marines company are collaborating with Tanzania People’s Defense Forces (TPDF) soldiers.
Parties from the prison department and others have joined these teams.
Since September 25, the Chief of Defense Forces (CDF), Venance Mabeyo has been overseeing the rescue process and efforts to recover the ferry which had the capacity for 100 passengers.
Mr Mabeyo said it will take a week to recover the vessel as the government announced earlier.
Works, Transport and Communication Minister Isaack Kamwelwe said, however, that the recovery process will take fewer days than anticipated. This was confirmed by Mr Major Sogoro, a rescue expert from Songoro Marines Company.
Meanwhile, transport services between Ukara and Bugorola islets in Ukerewe are expected to resume on Wednesday following the government’s decision to use its MV Temesa.
The Minister for Works, Transport and Communication said the decision was taken as an emergency measure following the tragedy that left hundreds of people dead.
“We are working hard to normalise the situation. Technicians are inspecting the MV Temesa before bringing it to Ukara for transport services starting Wednesday,” Mr Isaac Kamwelwe said on Tuesday.
MV Temesa, which has a capacity of 120 passengers, will remain there until a new vessel is ready, he said.
President John Magufuli ordered the issuing of a tender for the new ship which can carry 50 tons.
Since the accident occurred, Ukara and Bugorola residents have been relying on the privately owned MV Nyehunge which is also being used to carry equipment for rescue operations.
The death toll reached 226 on Tuesday morning, when a body was recovered from the water.