Namayingo. Mr Morris Ojambo, a resident of Ndaiga Village in Bukane Sub-county in Namayingo District is still coping with the death of his wife, two years after.
The 50-year-old breaks down as he narrates how his wife developed complications and bled to death while giving birth because there was no nearby health centre.
“I wanted to take her to a health centre across the mainland but I failed because I could not get affordable means of transport,” Mr Ojambo says.
“Many families here cannot afford to hire a boat in time to transport their sick relatives. As a result, we end up losing our beloved ones under our watch,” he adds.
Hiring a boat from Lolwe Island to Busiro Landing Site in Banda Sub-county to access a health facility costs more than Shs400,000.
However, Mr Ojambo is optimistic that the situation will change when the construction of Sigulu ferry at Masese Landing Site is complete.
The MV Sigulu will connect Sigulu and Lolwe Islands to Lugala mainland. The ferry was contracted to JGH Marine A/S, a Danish firm.
Ms Benedict Nangosia, the chairman of Buhone Village, where a dock is being built, says: “We are happy that finally, we are going to have a ferry in this area. The number of accidents will also reduce on the lake.”
In 2016, a boat from Bukana Island to Bumalenge Beach in Sigulu capsized, killing all the people on board.
Mr Geoffrey Ouma, another resident, says the ferry will create job opportunities.
“We will get odd jobs such as loading cargo, and it will also promote investments,” he says.
Mr Peter Okumu Wanda, the district speaker, says the ferry will also promote tourism between the main land and the islands.
“Dolwe has a huge potential for tourism, including the magnificent art rocks, the bird species, boat racing, water rafting, which have not been exploited and we hope business is going to develop rapidly,” Mr Okumu says.
Mr Ronald Sanya, the district chairperson, says they have been having challenges of deploying staff, especially teachers and health workers in the area.
“Many of the district workers deployed to work in Bukhooli Islands have been turning down our requests because they fear travelling on small boats to distant places like Dolwe but now that the ferry is complete, we are going to see more teachers and medical staff deployed in the island. This will improve service delivery,” Mr Sanya says.
Ms Joyce Nambozo, the chief administrative officer, says the ferry will transport expectant women to the mainlands.
“We have lost several mothers in the islands due to lack of transport because the family cannot afford to hire a boat,” Ms Nambozo said.
Ferry to sail soon
Recently, Ms Allen Kagina, the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) executive director, said construction works on the ferry were complete. Ms Kagina made the remarks while addressing project affected persons on the Majanji-Busia road. “This vessel is fitted with three engines, a 300-passenger seater space, huge cargo space and has most modern technology digital equipment to enable remote monitoring from Kampala, on engine performance, loading and location while sailing on water,” Ms Kagina, said. She said the construction cost about $4.3m (about Shs166b) and has been built to high standards to enable it have a high sea worthiness certificate. UNRA officials say the construction started in September last year and that the ferry has a load capacity of 300 tonnes.