ONLY 7 YEARS after colliding with MV Kabalega, which subsequently sunk into the deep of Lake Victoria, will the MV Kaawa return to service. Diddling with the pros and cons of repairs versus building a new rail ferry, the concept of repairs finally took hold and a long overhaul and refitting by Southern Engineering has seen the ferry set sail a few days ago for seaworthiness tests, after getting clearance from the marine oversight body in Kampala.
The return of a Ugandan rail ferry will boost the flow of goods to and from the port of Dar es Salaam through the connection with Mwanza port on the Tanzanian side of Lake Victoria, from where imports and exports are transported by rail to the Indian Ocean.
Much of the funding had reportedly come from World Bank loans and grants dedicated to boosting the transport sector and under this programme over 3 million US Dollars were availed by the World Bank towards the final bills of putting the ferry back on the water.
In the past have even vehicles been transported across the lake, allowing residents of Uganda to reach the Tanzanian side of the lake at Mwanza and then self drive into the Serengetis Grumeti Sector, less than 2 hours drive away from the city while passengers, often backpackers, have also used the ferry services to cross the lake and explore other equally exciting parts of Eastern Africa at a very reasonable transport fee. Welcome back to the MW Kaawa it is and as always, watch this space.