Dozens of travelers enroute to Kalangala district were stuck on Lake Victoria on Monday afternoon after MV Amani ferry broke down 45 minutes after taking off from Entebbe.
Charles Dembe, one of the passengers says the ferry off at 2 pm with 79 passengers. He says about 45 minutes into the journey, the captain announced that the ferry had boken down sending many passengers into panic.
Dembe says some of the travelers started asking for life jackets while others called their relatives for help.
Michael Okwalinga, the captain MV Amani blamed the problem on the poor flow of fuel from the tank to the engines.
He said they advised the passengers to remain calm until their engineers managed to fix the problem. James Nandu, the Kalangala Police community Liaison officer said they received information about the ferry breakdown.
Nandu explains that he was about to call officers from Entebbe to rescue the ferry when he received information that it had been repaired. The ferry set off at 6:42 pm after the repair works to its final destination.
Nandu complained that all the ferries plying the Kalangala–Entebbe route are overworked yet they are poorly serviced.
The breakdown of the ferry comes only a few days after Earth Wise Ferries (Uganda) Ltd, which manages MV Amani doubled its fares from 15,000 to 30,000 shillings.
Ben Walugembe, one of the residents said they were taken by surprise about the sudden fare increase. He blamed the crisis on the delayed return of MV Kalangala which used to charge 10,000 shillings from Lutoboka in Kalangala to Nakiwogo in Entebbe.
Willy Lugoloobi, the Kalangala LC 5 Chairperson said Earth Wise ferries was taking advantange due to lack of competition.
He explains that when asked about the new charges, management told them the money was meant to cover the high operational costs. He however, says they expect MV Kalangala to resume work in October this year.
Fred Bada, the Bujumba County Member of parliament says majority of passengers are suffering as they cant afford the hiked transport fare.
In January, the ministry of works authorized MV Aman to ply the Lutoboka- Nakiwogo route after MV Kalangala was taken to Mwanza port in Tanzania for regular servicing.
The management of Earthwise service limited has not yet commented as our calls went unanswered.