Passengers travelling to Kalangala District from Entebbe, Wakiso District are facing challenges to connect to the island district following the suspension of services by MV Kalangala.
MV Kalangala, which is the only active vessel plying the Kalangala–Entebbe route temporarily halted services on Wednesday to enable it undergo annual mandatory intermediate docking survey at Port Bell- Luzira dry docking site.
For two days now, passengers from Kampala and Entebbe connecting to Kalangala are forced to hire small boats that charge exorbitant fares to travel.
Ms Mary Tracy, one of the travellers says she was forced to sleep in Entebbe for a night on Wednesday after failing to travel with her vehicle to Kalangala.
“I never knew that the ship had gone for servicing. I reached here only to find that we had to board a small engine boat. I felt it was not secure and so decide to sleep here so that I use the Masaka route the following day [Thursday],” she said.
Travellers stranded at Nakiwogo pier after MV Kalangala suspended operations to undergo annual routine servicing. PHOTO BY EVE MUGANGA
“We cannot risk over loading because the boat can capsize,” Mr Sunday Dunduwala, the operator of Senkata said.
This means that those travelling with vehicles and heavy loads like cement and other merchandise have to use the two ferries at Bukakata landing site in Masaka to connect to Kalangala.
However, travelers have to incur more expenses because the distance from Entebbe through Kampala to Masaka is longer than Kalangala –Entebbe route.Senkata charges Shs20, 000 per person which is twice the fare travellers in the lowest class of MV Kalangala pay.
MV Kalangala has three classes with passengers in VIP paying (Shs 20,000) ,First class, Shs15, 000 and Ordinary class which pays Shs10,000.
According to Mr Dunduwala, Senkata’s maximum passenger capacity is 90 people yet MV Kalangala carries over 150 passengers and at least 10 vehicles.
Whenever MV Kalangala could go for servicing in the past , another vessel could be put in place to carry travellers . However, Mr Sadala Musoke, the chief executive officer Nation Oil Distributors Ltd ,a firm that manages the vessel says that this time they found it unnecessary to hire another vessel since servicing of MV Kalangala will take a short period .
“In most cases we put an alternative vessel , but since we are going to be away for just a short period ,we realized that it will be expensive yet MV Kalangala will be back soon,” Mr Musoke noted.
To ensure their safety , Musoke advised travellers to the islands to use the Masaka route which he feels is more secure.
Passengers set to board an engine speed boat which is currently transporting people connecting to Kalangala Islands. PHOTO BY EVE MUGANGA
“There are some private means which they can use ,but we highly recommend vessels managed by Kalangala Infrastructure Services Ltd which operate between Bukakkata in Masaka and Luku ,Kalangala,” Mr Musoke said.
Mr Simon Kabuye, one of the travelers, appealed to government to put a second vessel on the Entebbe- Kalangala route.
“It is so risky to travel on Senkata (boat) more so during this rainy season. To make transport easier ,they should bring a second vessel,” Mr Kabuye said. Early this week, Mr Musoke revealed that in partnership with government, they are in the process of procuring a second modern vessel which will remain operational whenever MV Kalangala goes for servicing.
The new vessel is expected in the country by end of this year and will be carrying between 200 to 300 passengers
Despite her numerous lakes and rivers, Uganda’s water transport
network remains one of the most forgotten sectors in the country.
Most boats on Ugandan lakes are obsolete, unlicensed or uninsured and the landing sites are in deplorable state.
This unregulated water transport has resulted in many fatal boat accidents due to unchecked overloading, sailing on undesignated routes and use of defective boats and canoes.