Senegal celebrates 18 years of Joola drama

In Senegal, it is the 18th anniversary of Joola’s sinking this Saturday, one of the deadliest in history. On September 26, 2002, the ferry connecting Casamance in the south of the country to Dakar sank off the coast of Gambia. Nearly 2,000 people died, only 64 survived.

With our correspondent in Dakar, Charlotte idrac

In the context of the pandemic, the memorial is marked with sobriety this Saturday: no large gatherings, the victims’ associations call for a minute of silence at. 12 UT. But for the survivors and relatives of the missing, the fight continues.

Place du Souvenir Africain in Dakar. Martine Kourouma often comes to meditate in front of the sea. “This place with ocean views, it’s like it brought me closer to the parents we’ve lost,” she testifies. Orphaned by Joola, the nearly thirty-year-old was 11 when her mother disappeared in the shipwreck. “It was a Friday morning, landline called once and has not stopped calling all day.”

The years go by, but the victims’ complaints remain the same. Especially the flow of the boat. “It is a pity, because so far we do not have a place to bury our parents. If the boat had been out for a long time, it would have reduced the weight. The other thing is that on the legal side, it allows us to prove that the boat that was supposed to run with two engines had a single engine, ”says the young woman.

A memorial in Ziguinchor

Joolaen carried almost four times as many passengers than the approved capacity. For the victims, the context of the coronavirus pandemic echoed the shipwreck. “Compared to the pandemic situation, not all people necessarily respect the barrier measures. In public transport, they restarted their congestion. Me, there are things I got from Joola in my behavior. I do not already go into the congested buses, which is also an individual responsibility “, explains Martine Kourouma.

Another demand from the families of the victims, the construction of a memorial in Ziguinchor. A site was identified but the file did not move. In the Cabinet this week, President Macky Sall called on the government to speed up the process.

An official ceremony was scheduled with wreath-laying and prayers at. 10 UT in Ziguinchor in the presence of the Ministers of the Armed Forces and of Communications.

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