TRAVELERS TO THE SSESE ISLANDS BREATH A SIGH OF RELIEF AS NEW FERRY ARRIVES
(Posted 12th April 2014)
When MV Kalangala was withdrawn from service and sent to Mwanza for maintenance and repairs, few thought that several months would pass and the ship still not be ready to resume services between Entebbe pier and the Ssese Island group. While another ferry connects Kalangala with the mainland near Masaka at Bukakata, that leaves motorists with the long drive to Kampala.
The other connection by boat from Entebbe is the MV Amani, a catamaran type passenger boat, which however, apart from loose cargo, cannot carry any vehicles or other heavy cargos.
Kalangala and other Ssese Islands hospitality operators have in the past complained bitterly that their business opportunities were curtailed through the absence of the main ferry, and yesterday did in fact news break that the government had given a license to the Tanzania registered FB Mugendi to commence operations. Trips from Entebbe to Kalangala and back are now taking place daily, just in time for the busy Easter weekend break.
The ferry can reportedly carry up to 300 passengers and up to 15 standard sized vehicles, leaves Entebbe daily at 2 p.m. and returns the next day at 11 a.m.
The shortage of safe larger ferries and boats like the MV Amani has in the past compelled many travelers to resort to the traditional lake boats but safety standards are not always enforced and overloading happens on a regular basis with often not enough life vests for all the passengers crammed on board. Only recently did a tragic accident on Lake Albert cost the lives of over 100 travelers and the introduction of the new larger ferry will no doubt allow for safer transport from the mainland to the islands of Lake Victoria.
No date could be obtained when MV Kalangala will return from the wharf in Mwanza / Tanzania where she has been undergoing maintenance since mid January this year.