MV Kalangala ferry, which travels from Nakiwogo landing site in Entebbe to Lutoboka, Buggala Islands in Kalangala District, yesterday temporarily suspended operations to allow it undergo servicing.
Ms Suzan Kataike, the Ministry of Works and Transport spokesperson, said the exercise, which is aimed at checking the vessel’s operational safety status, will last for a week. “We urge our people to remain patient because this exercise is for their own safety,” Ms Kataike said by telephone yesterday.
Every year, the vessel undergoes servicing. “This exercise doesn’t take long and the surveyor from UK is already in the country to do the work and the vessel will resume operations hopefully by next Saturday,” Ms Kataike added. She said the exercise will be carried out at Nakiwogo pier where the vessel is currently docked. The vessel can carry 150 passengers.
It plies only two routes from Kalangala, starting at 8:30am to Nakiwogo in Entebbe where it docks at 11am. At around 2pm it leaves Entebbe for Kalangala which it reaches at 5pm. Passengers who use the vessel to connect to Kalangala had difficulty in travelling yesterday. They were forced to hire boats that charge exorbitant fares to travel.
However, with the coming of a new vessel, MV Amani, which plies the Port Bell- Kalangala route, passengers, mostly those from Kampala, now have an alternative means of transport to the islands.
Unfortunately, this vessel which is run by Earth Wise Ferries only takes passengers.
In the meantime, Ms Kataike advised people with cars and heavy loads like timber to use the ferry from Bukakata landing site in Masaka as they sort out the problem. However, the distance from Kalangala through Bukataka to Kampala is longer compared to Kalangala –Entebbe route and travellers have to incur more expenses.
MV Kalangala, which was the only active Ugandan vessel on Lake Victoria, was built in 2005, in fulfillment of President Museveni’s 2001 campaign pledge to the islanders.
Early this year, government took over management of the vessel which was initially run by Muloowoza and Brothers Ltd, a local company. The company was accused of gross mismanagement and breach of contractual obligations.
Uganda’s marine transport has over the years had a number of challenges, with travellers spending more time in transit than required.
Copyright The Monitor Publications