MV Kalangala that plies the Entebbe - Kalangala route suspended its operations in February this year to undergo its annual maintenance done in Mwanza, Tanzania. However, the vessel returned in May and has remained grounded at Port Alice, in Nakiwogo because the docking piers are still being upgraded.
The Ministry of Works has said that MV Kalangala will resume
operations by end of this month when renovation works at the Nakiwogo and Lutoboka docking piers are completed.
MV Kalangala that plies the
Entebbe - Kalangala route suspended its operations in February this year to undergo its
annual maintenance done in Mwanza, Tanzania. However, the vessel returned in
May and has remained grounded at Port Alice, in Nakiwogo because the docking piers are still being upgraded.
The old piers got submerged by water levels on Lake Victoria, which increased drastically from 12 meters in October 2019 to 13.48 meters in May 2020, the highest level ever recorded in 50 years.
A pier is a raised structure in a water body typically supported by piles or pillars that allow vessels to dock for passengers to access the vessel and also load and offload cargo. The state of the piers affects the stability of a marine vessel when it docks since such piers help vessels to remain stable after docking.
Kataike, the spokesperson for the works ministry says that work at Nakiwogo Docking Pier commenced mid-July, while that of Lutoboka will
start next week.
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Kataike says that a tentative date for the vessel to resume operation will be
announced as soon as the ongoing works on both piers are completed.
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She adds that the ministry is also discussing the standard operating procedures to be observed when the vessel resumes operations.
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MV Kalangala, with the capacity to carry 100
passengers, 165 tons of cargo and 4 buses, is one of the major marine vessels
plying from the mainland in Entebbe to Kalangala. Before leaving for major
servicing, the ship used to operate one return trip between Entebbe and
Kalangala, departing Entebbe daily at 2 p.m. and returning the next day at 11 a.m.
The vessel charges the least on that route, whereby passengers pay 10,000 and 14,000 Shillings to sit at the ordinary and VIP sections respectively per trip.
In comparison, private vessels MV Natalie and MV Vanessa that ply the same route, are charging passengers 35,000 Shillings for a single trip to Kalangala and 70,000 Shillings for a return journey during the week. The vessels also charge 45,000 Shillings for a one-way ticket and 85,000 Shillings for a return journey on weekends.
As a result, passengers who usually travel to and from both areas want MV Kalangala to resume operations because of it's cheaper cost and capacity to carry more load.
Meanwhile, when our reporter visited the site
at Nakiwogo there were twenty workers, including three women. The pier has been raised by 3.4 metres
from the sea bed, double the depth of the pier that was submerged. Upon completion the pier will be 30 metres long and 10 metres wide, while that of Lutoboka will be 3 metres deep,12
metres long and 8 metres wide.