Better ferry connections open up the Ssese Islands for tourism and trade


(Posted 21st March 2015)

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Kalangala Infrastructure Services, a company contracted by the Government of Uganda to assist in the provision of lifeline services to Bugala Island, has just commissioned the second passenger and vehicle ferry as required under the terms of the agreement they signed.

MV Ssese is now in operation helping to substantially increase crossing times between the mainland at Bukakata near Masaka and the Luku landing site on Bugala island, the largest in the Ssese islands chain. This ferry, together with sister ship MV provides free services for Ugandans and even visitors from abroad, with the cost of the ferry operation born by the government.

While officiating at the launch event, the Minister for Works and Transport, Hon. John Byabagambi commended KIS for their progress in bringing the project to life. He said: ‘I am happy to see that KIS has progressed rapidly in this project. This project has been possible through a PPP, a highly effective initiative in effecting fast development. Normally they are characterized by an agreement between the government and the investor. In this case the investor injects money into the projects while the public pays for the services. The new ferry operations will not be any different from the MV Pearl. Crossing from island to main land in just 20 minutes, the services will be free of charge for the habitats, but catered for by the government. It has the capacity to move 180 people and 20 vehicles for each trip it makes. The two ferries will operate 16 times a day crossing each other, thus lessening the burden of traffic for the people crossing between Bugala Island and Bukakata’.

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The ferry service is part of a larger PPP (Private Public Partnership) infrastructure project KIS and the Government set out to develop on Bugala Island. KIS has also constructed a solar thermal hybrid power station, upgraded the main island road to a class B gravel road and built safe drinking water system for the island’s inhabitants.

The Kalangala Infrastructure Services CEO Mr. John Opiro responded when he noted: ‘The commissioning of the new ferry is yet another milestone KIS has achieved since it signed an agreement with the government of Uganda to develop modern infrastructure and transport services in Kalangala. KIS has shown its capability to deliver on its promise to provide two ferries for Bugala Island to uplift infrastructure which will pave way for development, so far evident since the arrival of the first ferry. We expect that with the MV Ssese’s arrival, there will be a surge in the rate of development. KIS was contracted by the government to work on four components which include marine services, water supply which has been provided in the areas of Kasekulo, Mulabana, a 66km road rehabilitation from the landing site in Luku through the town council at Mulabana and power now supplied for 24 hours throughout Kalangala. We have made significant progress in all projects and will soon launch them officially. These projects are expected to change the face of Kalangala economically by encouraging tourists and investors due to improved infrastructure’.

Good ferry connections, even from the nearby mainland site of Bukakata, is thought crucial to develop the tourism potential of the Ssese island group as connections from both Port Bell and Entebbe have proved to be unreliable. Many of the islands are still covered by almost intact rainforest which just waits to be explored by low impact eco tourism activities like bird watching and hiking.

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