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Jinja city officials commission construction of US$13M rescue center

Officials from Jinja city council commission construction works of a search and rescue center along Masese landing site. URN Photo

JINJA, UGANDA: The construction of the US$13million search and rescue center at Masese landing site in the Southern Division, Jinja city has got underway. A team of Jinja city authorities led by the Resident City Commissioner, Kyeyune Ssenyonjjo commissioned the project on Thursday morning.

The project will come with standby divers, speed boats, and a clinic that would enable water accident victims to receive timely first aid services before they are referred to neighboring health facilities for further management. The World Bank is bankrolling the construction through the Ministry of Works and Transport.

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Philemon Kudeera, the coordinator of the project, says that his colleagues were sensitized on the merits of the project and have since embraced it. He says that the construction of such a facility will boost safety sensitization drives across the Lake Victoria shoreline in Jinja and the surrounding areas.

Jinja RCC Ssenyonjjo argues that despite the presence of the Fisheries Protection Unit-FPU personnel, who are mandated with ensuring that fishermen use the authorized fishing gears on the lake, the majority of them still use undersize boats, which have increasingly contributed to accidents.

An average of six water accidents are registered along Jinja Lake Victoria shores on a weekly basis. He stresses that much as such accidents are not entirely fatal, voluntary rescue teams comprising of majorly local fishermen lack the expertise to apply modern safety skills, which exposes the victims to severe injuries.

He says that the construction of the rescue center will boost such efforts. Nasser Ashiraf, the Mayor of Jinja South Division, says that the operators of the center will run voluntary outreaches aimed at sensitizing fishermen on essential water safety skills, which are paramount in reducing accidents across the lake.

The Jinja City Deputy Clerk, Peter Mawerere, says that the 11 project affected persons have since been relocated to another location. Mawerere says that the project will also create employment opportunities for a section of youths along the shoreline communities.

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