Engines of ‘M.V. Seagull’ abruptly stopped working yesterday as the boat, with 135 passengers, was about to anchor at Malindi Port, Zanzibar, causing mayhem among passengers who were heading to the Isles from Dar es Salaam.
The vessel however didn’t sink, but was towed to the port using a Zanzibar Port Corporation (ZPC) barge.
Speaking to The Guardian shortly after docking, interviewed passengers said before the boat lost speed and control after the engines went off as she was sailing along the Zanzibar Channel.
They said as they were nearing Malindi Port, the ship’s engines immediately went off causing pandemonium among passengers.
“We are so thankful we are safe and alive. But we were so scared especially when we strong waves started hitting our vessel which began swaying either way,” one of the passengers said.
Zanzibar Marine Authority (ZMA) acting director Kombo Abdallah confirming the incident said the boat’s engines went off few meters before it reached Malindi port.
After the authority received the reports, it dispatched inspectors to inspect the vessel and establish the cause of the engines’ failure.
“We dispatched marine experts to inspect the cause. It is too early to explain the cause of the problem now before they furnish the authority with the incident report,” Abdallah said.
Only recently, the vessel underwent maintenance and was allowed to continue with operations after having been banned for a long time due to technical faults, he said.
With 135 passengers on board 30 of whom were children, it docked at Malindi port at 4:30 pm yesterday instead of 3pm as shceduled.
‘M.V. Seagull’ Director Said Abdulhaman said all the passengers were safe, but was not ready to reveal the cause of the engines failure few meters from the port.
In September last year, a ferry M.V. Spice Islanders sank at Nungwi in Unguja, killing more than 370 people leaving several others missing.
Early estimates said the vessel had about 600 people onboard and that it was heavily overloaded and some potential passengers had refused to board when it was leaving the mainland port of Dar es Salaam.
It sank in an area with heavy currents in deep sea between mainland Tanzania and Pemba Island.
The MV Spice Islander’s tragic accident investigative report released by Zanzibar President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein‘s said it discovered that overloading was the main factor behind the capsizing of the ship.
The team noted that the vessel carried passengers and cargo beyond its capacity, causing it to sink at Nungwi Island on September 10, 2010.
“Besides, despite the fact that the ship had technical faults, it was allowed to continue providing marine transport services,” the report had said.
The ship had 2,470 passengers on board, over and above its capacity, the report had said, noting that the investigative commission, however, failed to establish the quantity of cargo that was on board on the fateful day.
According to the presidential commission’s findings, 203 passengers lost their lives, 941 others survived, while the whereabouts of 1,370 passengers were still unknown.
The report listed officials who should face the arm of the law as Zanzibar Marine Transport Authority director general Vuai Haji Ussi, for allegedly permitting the ship which had technical problems to sail and for his failure to ensure security and safety of passengers and their properties.