LAKE FERRY RESUMES OPERATIONS
The Ministry of Works and Transport finally conceded that serious errors were made in the past agreement they had signed with a private sector company to run and maintain the ferry. Built by government and paid for with taxpayers money the ferry was to address serious safety and scheduling concerns the public had in regard to transportation from the mainland to the Ssese Islands on Lake Victoria, and indeed the maintenance work for the vessel got delayed more and more, having been taken out of service in August last year. Inspite of repeated assurances that the ferry would return to service – and as predicted here – it took until late January to complete the engine overhaul, undergo a special maritime inspection at the Tanzanian lake port city of Mwanza and then final clearance from the Ugandan authorities, before services resumed earlier this week.
Government is presently operating the vessel directly and inspite of rising protests from regular ferry users has already given notice that they intend to re-privatise the service, albeit under a better contract to avoid the protracted wrangles which had emerged between the operators and the ministry.
There seems broad agreement amongst regular traders and visitors to and from the islands that government should retain the operation outright, to ensure fair tariffs, regular operations, keeping the mandatory insurance cover intact and assuring observation of all required safety measure.
Lake accidents happen regularly on the many Ugandan lakes, often claiming double digit numbers of casualties due to poor training of crews, lack of safety and communications equipment and regular overloading.