The MV Kalangala ferry that plies the Entebbe – Kalangala route is scheduled to suspend its operations on Friday, February 25th, 2022 for mandatory maintenance.
In its February 21, 2022 statement, Nation Oil Distributors Ltd- NODL, which operates the ferry, says the vessel “shall break-off its normal travel schedule for mandatory maintenance and survey for a tentative period of approximately one month.”
Sadala Musoke, the Chief Executive Officer NODL, says the marine vessel will be taken to a floating dock at Port Bell in Luzira to be checked by marine engineers from the Ministry of Works. “Expatriates from Greece will also make a survey of the ferry to identify what is working and not working so that they guide us on what parts need repairs or replacement”.
The vessel usually undergoes major maintenance every year. It suspended operations early last year and also the previous year for servicing. Sadala says the ferry’s engine was overhauled last year. He explains that the ferry is supposed to have an engine overhaul after every 10,000 running hours.
In February 2020, NODL suspended the operations of the same ferry to undergo maintenance and repairs in Mwanza, Tanzania. Its crane machine, the wipers, mortar, the propellers, the ice making machine and the lavatory services were reported in poor condition and no longer functional.
With the capacity to carry 100 passengers, 165 tons of cargo and 4 buses or 8 small vehicles, the vessel is one of the major vessels plying from the mainland in Entebbe to Kalangala. It operates one return trip between Entebbe and Kalangala, departing Entebbe daily at 2 pm and returning the next day at 11 am.
MV Kalangala charges Shillings 10,000 and 14,000 for the ordinary and VIP trips respectively. The trip takes three and a half hours.
In its absence, private marine vessels MV Vanessa, MV Natalie and smaller boats will transport people and cargo from Entebbe to Kalangala.
However, all these vessels expected to replace MV Kalangala do not take heavy cargo and vehicles.
MV Natalie and MV Vanessa charge Shillings 35,000 Shillings for a single trip to Kalangala and Shillings 70,000 for a return journey during the week. They take an average of one hour and a half hours.
Meanwhile, boats charge Shillings 25,000 per trip. The journey is about three and a half hours.
Kalangala residents and frequent travelers led by Godfrey Mulongo and David Ssekalye say there is need to take MV Kalangala for major servicing but the engineers must ensure works are completed earlier within two weeks.
Also, residents, motorists and civil servants like Galiwango Buko who use their cars in either Kalangala or Entebbe say there is a need for an alternative ferry whenever MV Kalangala is out of service.
Buko, who works at Kalangala district local government says the government needs to adopt the model of alternative ferries plying the same route such as MV Pearl and MV Ssese for Masaka-Kalangala. The ferries dock at either Bukakata in Masaka or Bugoma in Kalangala. The trip takes about 30 minutes.
Musoke says that NODL and the government decided to take MV Kalangala for major servicing in Mwanza, Tanzania two years ago because Port Bell, the only dry dock, was fully booked and occupied at the time.
General Katumba Wamala, the Minister for Works and Transport, says the government plans to launch another marine vessel along Kalangala-Entebbe route by 2024.
He is however encouraging private individuals and companies to take interest and invest in operating marine vessels on this route and other routes on Lake Victoria to make water transport more affordable and accessible to and from the various islands.