It is hard not to draw comparisons between the two incidents given that factors behind the accidents bear an uncanny resemblance.
As expected, the Zanzibar government has performed the ritual of forming a committee to investigate the disaster, but corroborated survivor accounts are virtually unanimous that overloading and the poor state of the vessel were to blame for the isles' worst maritime accident. The same reasons were cited after the MV Bukoba disaster.
It is over 15 years since the ship travelling Bukoba to Mwanza sank within sight of the destination port with colossal loss of life and Saturday's accident, raises queries as to whether comprehensive measures were taken in the intervening period to avert a repeat of the Lake Victoria disaster. In fact, we voiced our concern in an editorial on April 27, 2009 following a spate of accidents in the Indian Ocean and Lake Victoria.
It was clear from the casual way authorities in both Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar continued to handle marine safety issues in the wake of the MV Bukoba tragedy that another disaster was waiting to happen, and our worst fears were confirmed on Saturday when the poorly maintained MV Spice Islander capsized 30km from Zanzibar port while on its way to Pemba.
The blatant violation of maritime safety rules is especially frightening in Zanzibar where ferry operators seem to have been left to their own devices. Events leading up to Saturday's disaster are proof of this, if any were needed.
Nobody raised a finger as the vessel was being crammed with passengers and cargo under the cover of darkness and then, listing dangerously, sailed out on its fateful journey.
Tanzania has been plunged into mourning by yet another maritime disaster, but whether lessons will be drawn from it is anybody's guess.