New ferry expected to ease transport bottleneck


(Posted 25th December 2014)

Kalangala Infrastructure Services, the company developing infrastructure and transport services on Bugala Island under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with the Government of Uganda, yesterday delivered the second ferry that will provide marine transportation services between Bukakata in Masaka and the Luuku landing site on Bugala Island, the main island and seat of the District Administration

MV Ssese, arrived at Port Bell on the 24th of December for a seaworthiness inspection by the Ministry of Works after sailing from the port of Mwanza in Tanzania where it was assembled.

Speaking at Port Bell upon the arrival of the new ferry John Opiro the Managing Director of KIS said: ‘The delivery of the second ferry is tangible evidence of our ability to deliver on our promises and that the project is reaching the maturity stage thereby increasingly benefiting the islands inhabitants. The power plant is already serving parts of Kalangala town, the road is being worked upon and the water project is already serving a large portion of the islands residents, we are confident that once all the four project components have been completed Bugala Island will be a very different place with infrastructure and services comparable with those on the mainland’.

Commenting about the current demand for ferry services to and from Bugala, John Opiro noted that the figures had grown exponentially especially in the build up to the festive season: ‘We are currently doing twelve crossings per day on Mondays – Fridays and ten crossings on Saturdays as opposed to the four scheduled trips we were supposed to do with the first ferry the MV Pearl, despite this however we are still unable to transport all the people and vehicles who want to cross on any given day and some people have to be left behind till the next day,. The arrival of the second ferry will ease this problem because will be able to double the number of crossings’.

In closing he reassured commuters that the new ferry will be operated under the same terms like the MV Pearl with no one being charged for the crossings. He explained as per UNRA, short of Uganda National Roads Authority policy the ferry is considered to an extension of the road and because of this no one is required to pay for the crossing which is essentially a bridge to the island.

The MV Ssese can safely transport 180 passengers seated and standing as well as about 20 vehicles depending on their weight, the same as the MV Pearl the MV Ssese has the capacity to make the crossing between Bukakata and Luku in just 25 minutes.

Tourism operators on the island have expressed their delight about the arrival of the new ferry and two in comments sent in said in almost the same words: ‘Now more visitors can come to Bugala and our investments will not be wasted’. A number of small accommodation establishments have opened on the island in recent years but all struggled to make ends meet first for the lack of a reliable ferry connection to the mainland and when MV Pearl was launched for many wannabe visitors unable to make it across Lake Victoria due to the often long waits.

Lake transport from Entebbe and from Kampala’s Port Bell has in the recent past also suffered from the lack of enough ferry capacity, often leaving lake transport to private boat operators with often obscure safety records, lacking life vests for all passengers and suspected overloading of boats. The Ssese Island group holds much tourism potential as a result of the often untouched forests on the islands, the birdlife visitors find and the relaxed way of life where fishing is the main economic activity.

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