It’s been almost 16 years since the sinking of Le Joola, one of the deadliest maritime tragedies in history. Le Joola, the Senegalese government-owned ferry capsized off the coast of The Gambia on September 26, 2002, killing at least 1,863 people.
Licensed to carry no more than 535 passengers, Le Joola was reportedly carrying three times the number of passengers legally permitted when the disaster struck.
Only around 64 passengers out of almost 2000 survived when the ferry ran into a violent storm and capsized within few minutes of hitting rough water 35km off the Gambian coast.
Thought to be worse than the Titanic disaster, and believed to be the second-worst non-military maritime disaster in the number of lives lost, after the Doña Paz, families of victims of Le Joola have since been demanding justice in terms of compensation.
A year after the disaster, the captain of the ship, who died in the accident, was held solely responsible, leaving scot free government officials who were also blamed for the unfortunate incident.
What is also worrying is the fact that the wreck has never been excavated and still remains at the bottom of the sea.
Every year, events are organized to commemorate the victims of the disaster, with families of the departed souls demanding for the construction of Le Joola Memorial.
After almost 16 years, the memorial might see the light of day as the government, in 2017, promised to lay a foundation for it before the end of 2018.
The memorial, which will cost between 2 and 3 billion francs CFA, will be erected in Ziguinchor (southern Senegal) next to the port, from which the ferry had departed before the disaster, a government official told news site APA.
The National Association of Families of the Victims of Le Joola (ANFV-JOOLA) subsequently welcomed the move, saying it “will be a memorial to the thousands who lost their lives in the tragedy.”