The poor state of Kiyindi-Buvuma ferry has continued to worry passengers after it broke down in the middle of the journey to Buvuma Island.
While on its second route from Kiyindi landing site to Buvuma Islands on Wednesday at around 11am, passengers were left in fear after the ferry which had just sailed about 700 meters abruptly stopped.
This forced the operators to return to the landing site.
“After realising that the ferry had developed a mechanical problem, the operator had to reverse it to dock so that they can reduce on the weight it had carried. It took almost 40 minutes as they offloaded the vehicles,” Mr Sam Kizito, one of the passengers said on Thursday.
Mr Kizito said on board were Buvuma District officials including the Resident District Commissioner, Agnes Nabirye, the chief administrative officer, other district officials, farmers and officials from the Ministry of Water and Environment who were heading to the islands to launch a water project.
Mr Peter Serunjoogi, a trader in Buvuma Islands who regularly uses the ferry, said he is now used to the poor state of the ferry because it cannot spend three months without breaking down.
“For us, we are used because this is the only free means of transport we have. It [ferry] helps us so much although sometimes it breaks down but we usually give time to the engineers to repair it,” he said.
Ms Mariam Kasozi, a resident of Buvuma asked government to replace the ferry with a new one to avoid a possible fatal marine accident.
“The number of people traveling to Buvuma is increasing daily but the ferry can no longer carry the big number of people who travel daily,” she said.
The MP for Buvuma District, Mr Robert Migadde, who used the ferry to Buvuma on Thursday said the ferry operators asked them not to load heavy vehicles until after it was repaired.
“It is true, today (Thursday) they [ferry operators] have stopped all loaded trucks and they are only allowing light vehicles. Actually, I have also been a victim because I had brought building materials but I had to offload them and I use a boat,” Mr Migadde said.
Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) spokesperson, Mr Mark Ssali said construction of a new ferry is in advanced stages and it will be commissioned soon.
“A new ferry is being built at Uganda Railways Corporation pier at Luzira and testing will commence in February. We are targeting its operation to commence by June 2020,” he said.
Kiyindi-Buvuma Ferry is supposed to carry 120 passengers and 8 vehicles per route.
It makes three routes a day from Kiyindi landing site in Buikwe District to Kirongo landing site in Buvuma District.
Currently, Unra operates 10 ferries on lakes and the River Nile to connect to either sides of national roads under their care and maintenances.
These ferries are Laropi- Umi ferry connecting Moyo and Adjumani Districts, Masindi Port Ferry for Kiryandongo-Apac route, Nakiwogo Ferry for Entebbe-Kyanvubu route, Wanseko-Panyimur Ferry for Buliisa to Nebi and Obongi Ferry from Moyo to Adjumani.
Others are MV Kyoga 1 and MV Kyoga 2, both on Amolatar-Nakasongola, Mbulamuti Ferry for Kamuli- Buyende route, and Lake Bisina Ferry for Katakwi-Kumi route.