June 12, 2013

Crisis in Kalangala as ferry Suspends services

John Opiro, the Managing Director of Kalangala Infrastructure Services Limited –KISL, the firm which manages MV Pearl told Redpepper online that he was uncomfortable speaking about the challenges they are facing with a stranger on phone.
Travellers arriving at Bukakata aboard MP Pearl which has dropped two round trips
Travellers arriving at Bukakata aboard MP Pearl which has dropped two round trips

The management of MV pearl ferry has suspended two trips affecting transport to and from Kalangala district. The MV pearl ferry connects Masaka to islands across Lake Victoria. According to the agreement between ministry of work and Kalangala Infrastructural services-KIS Limited, MV Pearl is supposed to make four round trips. This means the free has to go across L. Victoria eight times. However, it has suspended two round trips paralyzing transport between Masaka and Kalangala. A hawker on MV pearl, whose name has been withheld because of the sensitivity of the matter he says trouble started on May 30th   after the ferry developed mechanical problems and failed to dock at Bugoma.

He explains that the captain spent about 30 minutes struggling to dock, which caused panic amongst passengers on board. He says the captain calmed down passengers and explained to them that the ferry had developed a technical problem in one of its four engines. He says that since then, the ferry has never normalized forcing the operators to cut down on the trips. John Opiro, the Managing Director of Kalangala Infrastructure Services Limited –KISL, the firm which manages MV Pearl told our reporter that he was uncomfortable speaking about the challenges they are facing with a stranger on phone. However, the reduction of the trips has brought several businesses to a standstill.

On Tuesday, Redpepper found dozens of travelers stranded at Bukakata landing site following the suspension of the 2pm trip to Bugoma Island. Henry Kizito, a businessman in Kalangala says the suspension of some trips has made it extremely difficult to transport goods. He says several trucks are always left behind due to the large number of travelers on the ferry. Kizito fears the suspension of these trips could lead to a hike in commodity prices in Kalangala district because of inadequate supply.

Peter Ssenyanja, a resident of Kalangala spent five hours at Bukakata landing site after he found the 2pm trip suspended. Ssenyanja says that he missed out on his appointed at the district because he could not make it in time due to transport challenges. Ssenyanja, the coordinator Kalangala Education Forum says that he failed to make it to a meeting with teachers because of lack of reliable transport.

Namuli Namuddu, a food vendor at Bukakata Island says the change in the schedule of the ferry has impacted negatively on her business. She says that she has been forced to reduce on the quantity of food she prepares because many travelers arrive after lunch hours. Last year, UNRA withdrew MV Bukakata that was plying the Masaka and Kalangala route. The ferry used to make seven trips despite its poor condition. It was hoped that the introduction of MV Pearl with new technology and its swift movement would ease transport to and from Kalangala.

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