What you need to know:
- Mr Musoke explained that MV Kalangala operates daily throughout the year and only rests when it goes for annual mandatory surveying at Port Bell -Luzira dry docking pier, a situation that exposes it to failures.
MV Kalangala, the only public passenger and heavy cargo vessel plying the Entebbe-Kalangala route has temporarily suspended operations after developing a mechanical fault.
According to Mr Sadala Musoke, the Chief Executive Officer National Oil Distributors Limited (NODL), a firm managing the vessel, the mechanical fault is minor and is being fixed at Nakiwogo pier noting that the vessel would resume normal operations in two days.
"Marine engineers are already working on a few minor repairs like the stern ramp locks which we expect to be completed by Thursday or Friday," he said during a phone interview on Tuesday.
Mr Musoke explained that MV Kalangala operates daily throughout the year and only rests when it goes for annual mandatory surveying at Port Bell -Luzira dry docking pier, a situation that exposes it to failures.
"During MV Kalangala’s absence, we have provided a passenger and light cargo vessel - MV NODIL Victoria to ply the same route at a cost of Shs35,000 per passenger," he added.
However, the fares for MV NODL Victoria are higher compared to what MV Kalangala charges. MV Kalangala has three classes with passengers in VIP paying Shs 20,000, first class paying Shs14,000 and ordinary class Shs10,000.
MV NODL Victoria also doesn't carry vehicles, implying that passengers with cars have to travel 170kms by road ia Masaka and use MV Ssese and MV Pearl which ply the Bukakkata –Bugoma route.
Ms Eva Kwesiga, the Kalangala Resident District Commissioner (RDC), said the government should consider procuring a new vessel, insisting that MV Kalangala has become too old.
"Based on the reports we get from workers on the ship, we need a new one, we pray that the government gets funds and sorts out this problem once and for all," she said.
MV Kalangala’s suspension of operations comes at a time when MV Vanessa, a private passenger vessel that plies the Kasenyi –Bukasa route also suspended its operations for two weeks effective last week to undergo annual mandatory docking inspection.
MV Kalangala vessel was launched in 2005 as a fulfilment of the presidential pledge, to serve islanders. The vessel last underwent annual mandatory docking inspection in February and is expected to go back early next year.
Being a key tourists’ destination, Kalangala usually records huge numbers of tourists visiting the area during the festive season. This has always left the vessels with no option, but to overload beyond the recommended passenger capacity.