Mv Kalangala has resumed its operation on the Entebbe-Kalangala route. The ferry departed Nakiwogo in Entebbe municipality for Lutoboka in Kalangala district on Tuesday afternoon. The vessel suspended operations on February 25 to undergo routine maintenance.
Sadala Musoke, the Managing Director of Nation Oil Distributors limited, which operates MV Kalangala, says the ferry was grounded for more than a month because some spare parts were not available in Uganda. He explains that the spare parts are usually imported from Italy and Turkey.
“It was difficult to import these spare parts on air because some flights to Europe were disrupted after the outbreak of the Ukraine-Russian conflict so we had to ship these spare parts which also took time,” he said.
Some of the spare parts and accessories that were imported include 3 wiper mortars, 3 floodlights, 50 smoke detectors, 50 heat detectors, battery chargers and embarkation lights. Henry Ategeka, the Principal Marine Inspector in the Maritime Administration at the Ministry of Works and Transport, says the ferry is now in good shape.He says the ferry’s propellers are usually clogged by fishing nets cast along its navigation path.
Frequent travellers and tourism players are happy that the ferry has resumed operations ahead of the Easter weekend. The ferry charges Shillings 10,000 and Shillings 14,000 per trip for ordinary and VIP seats respectively.
It can carry over 100 passengers, six vehicles and 140 tonnes. Private speed boats and boats charge Shillings 35,000 per trip on weekdays and Shillings 50,000 on weekends. Allan Mutagubya, a resident of Kalangala, says traders suffered from high transport costs because NODL failed to provide an alternative vessel.
Waiswa Bageya, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Works and Transport had indicated that NODL would provide an alternative vessel from February 25 when MV Kalangala would suspend its operations. In mid-March, Bageya said that the ministry was probing Musoke on his failure to provide an alternative vessel.
At the time, Musoke told our reporter that he would avail his private vessel MV NODL as the alternative. He however noted that it had to first undertake test runs before it could start making trips. MV NODL carries 200 passengers.
However, by end of last week, MV NODL was not yet on water. Musoke now says the new ferry will start operations soon but does not disclose the date. Ategeka however says Musoke has not yet submitted an application to register and operate the new ferry on lake Victoria.