Newsflash: Tanzany Ferries Still Overcrowded

Photo: MSNBC

You may have already heard the news that another ferry, the MV Skagit, capsized and sank in the waters between Zanzibar and the mainland on Wednesday.

It looks like fewer people will be killed this time – the boat had 290 passengers and crew compared to the 1,000-plus on the MV Spice Islander last SeptemberThe Daily News had an interesting detail that the state of Washington used to own the boat before it was imported to Tanzania in 2011..

It should surprise no one that the root cause of the disaster is most likely the same that sank the MV Spice Islander. Speculation on the West Coast Ferry Forum is that the ferry was overloaded and not designed to handle high winds on the open ocean:

The latest articles are now indicating that at least 290 people as well as cargo (unknown what that means) were on board. The # on board as well as other weight keeps slowly creeping up which is ominous as to the cause. Even 290 if I recall this would significantly exceed the capacity she was rated for, at least when in WSF service, in protected waters, much less in the near open ocean.”

Interestingly, The Daily News reports that the Zanzibar Marine Authority registered the boats as having a 300-passenger capacity. Other sites report that they were designed to carry 230 passengers.

Maybe I’m just cynical, but my guess is that some money changed hands when that licensing application crossed the desk.