KAMPALA. MV Kalangala vessel, which transports passengers from Nakiwogo landing site in Entebbe to Lutoboka, Buggala Islands in Kalangala District, will effective April 4, temporarily suspend operations to allow it undergo servicing.
MV Kalangala is operated by Nation Oil Distributors Ltd who signed the contract to transport travellers across Lake Victoria in April 2015. However, servicing and repairing of the vessel remain a responsibility of the Ministry of Works and Transport.
Mr Sadala Musoke , the chief executive officer Nation Oil Distributors Ltd said the exercise, which is aimed at checking the vessel’s operational safety status, will last for 23 days.
“We urge our clients to remain patient because this exercise is for their own safety. We had planned to do servicing late last month but we realized that it would inconvenience tourists and other people travelling to the islands during the Easter holiday,” Mr Musoke told journalists.
Every year, the vessel undergoes servicing. “This exercise doesn’t take long and surveyors from abroad are already in the country to do the work together with our local team,” he added.
Unlike in the past, the vessel will this time be serviced from Port Bell, Luzira dry docking site, not Mwanza, Tanzania. A dry-dock is machinery that is used to lift ferries and other marine vessels from the water to allow engineers look beneath the vessel and carry out major renovations and routine service.
“We commend government for accepting major servicing to be carried out from here. I am sure we will save at least 40 percent of the money we have been spending in Mwanza,” Mr Musoke said.
Uganda has had the dry docking site for 30 years but it has remained unutilized all these days. Ferries have been taken to Mwanza, Tanzania, for dry docking, in the process spending up to Shs2b for each ferry to get servicing in Mwanza.
The MV Kalangala vessel can accommodate upto 150 passengers.
It plies only two routes from Kalangala, starting at 8:30am to Nakiwogo in Entebbe where it docks at 11am. At about 2pm, it leaves Entebbe for Kalangala.
In the meantime, Mr Musoke advised passengers with cars and heavy loads like timber to use the Bukakata landing site ferry.
However, the distance from Kalangala through Bukataka to Kampala is longer compared to Kalangala –Entebbe route and travellers have to incur more expenses.
Mr Musoke revealed that in partnership with government, his company is in the process of procuring another vessel which will remain operational whenever MV Kalangala goes for servicing.
“We have finalised the procurement process and we expect to receive the new vessel by end of this year,” he said.
He stressed that the new vessel will carry only passengers and will be taking less than 2 hours to sail from Nakiwogo in Entebbe to Kalangala Islands.
“It will be carrying between 200 to 300 passengers and because of its high speed ,we will sometimes it during rescue operations ,” he said
MV Kalangala, which is the only active vessel plying the Kalangala –Entebbe route, was built in 2005, in fulfilment of President Museveni’s 2001 campaign pledge to the islanders.
Uganda’s marine transport has over the years had a number of challenges, with travellers spending more time in transit than necessary.