MV Kalangala, the vessel which plies the Nakiwogo -Lutoboka route will resume operations today (Thursday) after being grounded for eight months.
MV Kalangala, suspended operations on February 9, before it was taken for periodic mandatory docking inspection.
Inspection was supposed to be done at Port Bell, Luzira dry docking site in Kampala, but the site was still occupied by another vessel, MV Kaawa, prompting government to take it to Mwanza in Tanzania.
Even when the vessel returned to the country in May, it remained grounded as both its docking sites at Nakiwogo in Entebbe and Lutoboka in Kalangala were damaged due to the elevated water levels in Lake Victoria.
Mr Sadala Musoke, the Chief Executive Offer of Nation Oil Distributors Ltd, which manages the vessel said, "We worked on both our docking piers which were affected by water therefore the recommencement of MV Kalangala shall now operate while observing the Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)."
He made the remarks on Wednesday during a press conference at the MV Kalangala offices in Ndeeba.
Among the guidelines to be followed by passengers is wearing of facemasks, sanitizing, washing of hands, social distancing, thorough paramount temperature checks among others.
The vessel which was carrying 120 passengers initially will now take only 50, according to Mr Musoke.
He further added that the travel or departure time shall be the same as before from Lutoboka to Nakiwogo at 7:00am and the return journey by 2:00pm, that is from Nakiwogo to Lutoboka.
“Even though the number will be reduced our charges will remain the same, we are still discussing the issue of increasing the fares with the Ministry of Transport and soon we shall communicate in case of any changes but for now we shall charge Shs10,000 for ordinary and Shs14000 for executives as it has been," Mr Sadala emphasized.
Currently, private boats charge between Shs20,000 and Shs45,000, up from Shs15,000.
Those carrying cargo and vehicles have to use the ferry from Bukakkata Landing Site in Masaka to Bugoma Landing Site in Kalangala, a journey considered to be longer and expensive.
Mr Sam Kivumbi, a traveller, said the continued grounding of MV Kalangala had greatly affected them.
“We have been spending a lot of money on private vessels but now that MV Kalangala is resuming I’m happy that I will be able to save my money because these private vessels were not taking cargo and we therefore had to use Bukakata," he said.