Ban on boating in Keenjhar Lake

Ten of a family, who drowned in the lake on Monday, laid to rest


Our Correspondent August 19, 2020
A file photo of a capsized boat. PHOTO: Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency

THATTA:

The Thatta district administration imposed on Tuesday a ban on boating in Keenjhar Lake, in the wake of a boat capsizing and 10 picnickers drowning in the water body in Thatta the previous day (Monday).

According to the district administration, the ban will remain in place until the restoration and registration of the boats at the lake is completed and any further decision is made on the matter.

Confirming the ban, Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani, while visiting the home of those who lost their lives in the recent incident of drowning, said a case for the incident had been registered on state's behalf and the boatman responsible for the tragedy had also been arrested.

He said, "At the time [of the incident], fishing boats were seen crowding the lake, taking advantage of scores of people visiting the recreational spot. But we have banned boating in Keenjhar Lake," he said.

Ghani said Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, too, had ordered a "transparent investigation" of the incident and instructions had been issued for relevant officials to take measures for preventing such occurrences in the future.

He also appealed to people to abstain from boating in rickety boats at recreational spots.

The incident

The recent incident if the boat capsizing and people drowning in Keenjhar Lake was the latest in a string of many reported in the recent past, which evoked public outrage.

The motorboat was ferrying 10 women and three children, along with the boatman, from the banks of the lake to the shrine on Noori Jam Tamachi at the lake's centre.

According to Thatta deputy commissioner Usman Tanveer, the boat overturned because it was overloaded past the permitted capacity, while strong winds also led to the accident."

While all 14 people onboard fell into the lake, three of the picknickers were rescued. The boatman, Abdul Jabbar, initially managed to escape from the lake, but was later arrested by the police.

The deceased included 21-year-old Urooj, daughter of Usman Ghani, along with her sisters Aman, 11, Aeza, 10, and Maham, who was only 18 months old. Three other sisters, identified as 21-year-old Shazia Yousuf, 21-year-old Alisha and 20-year-old Sadia, also drowned to death, along with Hiba, 40, Uzma Amir, 25, and Musarrat Asif, 24.

Meanwhile, Maheen, Rasheedan and Rubina were rescued and taken to safety.

The lake is a popular tourism spot, attracting most of its visitors from the provincial capital, who often make their way there on day trips.

Visitors often complain that the boatmen do not provide them with life jackets and the boats are filled visibly beyond their capacity, besides being poorly maintained.

It is to be noted that the incidents of drowning and capsizing have been on the rise in Keenjhar Lake and elsewhere in Sindh, indicating the need to rehabilitate boats across the province.

Laid to rest

The funeral prayers of the deceased were offered in Fauji Ground, Mehmoodabad on Tuesday, following which they were laid to rest in Fauji Graveyard.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leaders Khurram Sher Zaman, Naeemmur Rehman, Arshad Vohra, Amnaullah Marwat and others attended the funeral.

Speaking on the occasion, Ghani offered condolences to the bereaved and dubbed the tragedy "unforgettable."

He also reviewed burial arrangements.

WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING FROM PPI

Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2020

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