Coast guard calls for safety in Lake Victoria

Officials from Kenya Coast Guard Services and Kenya Maritime Authority search for the body of a 23 year old man who drowned in Lake Victoria at Koginga Beach in Homa Bay Town. PHOTO/George Omondi, The Scholar Media Africa

Three friends were walking along Koginga Beach in Homa Bay Town when they decided to board a wooden boat for a tour at Lake Victoria.
The three men are then said to have decided to swim after they had sailed a few meters from the beach.
Two of them reportedly jumped into to the water to swim but the third person stayed in the vessel.
But before long, the two men who were swimming sent distress calls to fishermen on the beach.

They were in danger!
It turned out that neither of them did knew how to swim well and the section of the lake they were at was deep.
Desperate calls to fishermen at the beach meant that they were asking for help to get back on the wooden boat.
One man identified as Tailor Omondi, aged 23, drowned during the incident.
His friend whom he was with in the water was however lucky.
He was saved by fishermen after he managed to stay afloat for a little longer.
Kenya Coast Guard Services (KCGS) is blaming such incidents on lack of emergency preparedness among fishermen and boat owners.
KCGS begun a search for Omondi’s body two days after the incident.
They joined officers from Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) who begun the same activity immediately.
KCGS Operation Commander in charge of inland squadron Lieutenant Bernard Mibei said the man could have been saved had fishermen at the beach valued safety in the lake.
Lieutenant Mibei said all vessels used in transport, fishing and recreation in Lake Victoria in Homa Bay, Kisumu, Siaya, Migori and Busia should have floats.
Floats can save lives of people who are at risk of drowning.
“The floats must not necessarily be the ones used in modern vessels. An empty jerican that is tightly sealed can act as a floater. People who are at risk of drowning can hold on to them until they are rescued,” he said.
When Omondi was sinking, his other friend who had remained in the boat watched helplessly.
He could not do anything for fear of drowning too.
Mr Mibei said if the boat had a floating device, the man in the vessel could have thrown it out to his friends to hold on.
“Death in the lake only takes a few minutes. Once panic sets it, it is inevitable that whoever is in the water will drown,” he said.
Besides protecting fishermen and ensuring all laws are adhered to in the lake, KCGS officers have been invited in a mission of searching for bodies in the water mass.
The KCSG commander said most cases of drowning can be avoided if fishermen are trained on safety precautions and response.
KCGS called on all boat owners to have life jackets in their vessels and acquire first aid skills that can be helpful in case of accidents.
“All boat users should enhance safety first. Fishing communities should cooperate to work with the rules and by-laws governing the lake,” Lieutenant Mibei said.

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