Nkhata Bay Marine in-charge Assistant Superintendent Golden Juma has warned passengers travelling on Lake Malawi against boarding boats that are loaded beyond recommended limit.
His warning follows the arrest of Francis Foloma, 74, on September 20 2023 for allegedly overloading his motorised boat, contrary to Section 150 (d) of Inland Waters Shipping Act.
Last week, footage of the boat named Makutuwima, which operates between Likoma island and Nkhata Bay districts,went viral on social media.
In an interview yesterday, Juma said it was risky to board overfilled boats.
“Passengers should wait for a safe boat if they see that the boat they want to board is full for the safety of their lives,” he said.
Juma said there are rules and regulations that govern the operations of vessels such as boats on the lake.
He said: “At times, these boat operators take advantage when the police and marine officers are not around and they overload their boats to make more money.
“For instance, the boat operator who has just been arrested took advantage of that absence.”
Juma acknowledged that the boats plying their trade between Likoma and Nkhata Bay are not enough to meet the transportation demands of passengers; hence, appealed to those with capacity to venture into the business.
Judith Chirwa, a business operator from Nkhata Bay, who buys fish from Likoma, said they prefer boarding private-owned faster boats to MV Ilala because MV Ilala schedules take days.
She said: “We sell fresh fish which can go bad as we wait for the MV Ilala, which usually takes days to return to Nkhata Bay.
“Business takes into account time considerations; hence, you find many people scrambling to board the next boat available.”
Meanwhile, MV Ilala which was withdrawn from Lake Malawi two months ago to undergo routine servicing, has returned on the lake.