UNRA suspends Mbulamuti, Nakiwogo ferries over Covid-19 

Tuesday April 7 2020

People disembarking a ferry after it docked in

People disembarking a ferry after it docked in Nakiwogo, Entebbe. PHOTO BY EVE MUGANGA 

By FRED MUZAALE&EVE MUGANGA

The Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) has temporarily suspended the operations of the Mbulamuti and Nakiwogo ferries, to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Uganda.

Uganda has so far confirmed 52 cases of Covid-19, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Health.

As such, the ferries will remain grounded for 14 days, according to UNRA notice issued on April 1, 2020.

The Mbulamuti ferry links Kayunga and Kamuli districts across River Nile while the Nakiwogo ferry links Buwaya in Mpigi District with Nakiwogo in Entebbe Municipality.

“UNRA advises the general public to limit their intended travels as already advised by H.E the President of the Republic of Uganda in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19.  In the event that the intended travel plans are unavoidable, the public is advised to use alternative routes,” the public notice reads in part.

The alternative route for travellers from Kamuli would be Kayunga-Jinja- Kamuli, while those who use the Nakiwogo ferry would be expected to go through Mpigi-Kasanje-Nakawuka-Ssisa-Kisubi by road and connect to Entebbe. 

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However, that may also not be possible, following the President’s 14-day ban on public transport.

When contacted, UNRA Spokesperson, Mr Mark Ssali said, “We are following the Ministry of Health and presidential directive. When the lockdown ends, we will wait for communication from the Ministry of Health and President to decide on whether to lift the temporally suspension or maintain it.”

Travellers and motorists at the docking sites of both ferries were stranded. Some said they did not have money to fuel their vehicles so as to use the longer routes.

“I don’t have enough fuel for my vehicle to go through Jinja and then Kayunga. I will have to wait until they bring for me more fuel,” Mr Sam Basangwa, a truck driver said at Bugobero landing site, said in an interview on Monday.

However, UNRA noted that other ferries will remain operational throughout this period “to support cargo transport and ambulances only.

Currently, UNRA operates 10 ferries on lakes and the River Nile to connect to either sides of national roads under their care and maintenance.

These ferries are MV Laropi-Umi, connecting Moyo and Adjumani Districts, MV Masindi Port for Kiryandongo-Apacroute, MV Kiyindi for Buikwe–Buvuma route, MV Wanseko-Panyimur for Buliisa to Nebbi and MV Obongi from Moyo to Adjumani.

Others are MV Kyoga 1 and MV Kyoga 2, both onAmolatar-Nakasongola and MV Bisina for Katakwi-Kumi route.

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