Sadala Musoke, the Chief Executive Officer NODL, says the new ferry dubbed MV NODL will complement MV Kalangala to meet the increasing demand due to the growth in passenger numbers over the years particularly during the festive season.
The additional ferry earmarked for the Entebbe-Kalangala
route has started test runs. Nation Oil Distributors Limited-NODL
will operate the new ferry, currently docked at Port Bell.
The new ferry was built and completed mid- this year and is
ready for operations, according to NODL, which currently operates MV Kalangala
on behalf of the Ministry of Works and Transport.
Sadala Musoke, the Chief Executive Officer NODL, says the new
ferry dubbed MV NODL will complement MV Kalangala to meet the increasing demand
due to the growth in passenger numbers over the years particularly during the
Musoke says NODL's contract with the Works Ministry requires
it to among others; provide an alternative water vessel when MV Kalangala is
away for routine maintenance, in times of accidents or when there is an overwhelming
number of travellers.
"This new ferry was long overdue because MV
Kalangala has to undergo mandatory survey beginning of December because it has
operated with the same gearbox since 2005. The gearbox must be replaced and
this will take two weeks. So we must get this new ferry on the water soon,"
In the absence of MV Kalangala, travellers and
business people who ply the route and want to use their vehicles resort to MV
Ssese and MV Pearl ferries at Bukakata in Masaka. However, this increases the
cost for travellers from Entebbe to Masaka before connecting to Kalangala. They
need about Shillings 120,000 on a single trip of over 8 hours.
He explains further that the new ferry is also
important in absorbing the high number of travellers during the festive season. With
the capacity to carry 100 passengers, 165 tons of cargo, and 4 buses, MV
Kalangala is one of the major vessels plying from the mainland in Entebbe
It operates one return trip between Entebbe
and Kalangala, departing Entebbe daily at 2 pm and returning the next day at 11
am. However, Musoke says that the new ferry, yet to get its route
chart approved by the works ministry and will only carry passengers.
"MV NODL will carry 200 passengers. It will
not load cargo or vehicles because MV Kalangala is there and these items occupy
space that could carry over 100 passengers, “Musoke told URN.
He says carrying only passengers is more profitable because
"on MV Kalangala we charge each vehicle shillings 50,000 and that's about
shillings 500,000 for ten cars per trip and yet this space can carry 150
passengers who could fetch us Shillings 4 million."
In any case, he says passengers will provide
business opportunities to public and private transport service providers in
Kalangala resulting in improved livelihoods for residents and business people
who are not even involved in tourism. Musoke says that much as
passengers are excited about the new ferry, they should wait for the proposed
"We are still negotiating with the government on the
fares. It would be great if the government subsidizes the fares or says the
ferry will be free,” he said. It is estimated that water vessels MV Ssese, MV
Pearl that ply Masaka-Kalangala route and MV Kalangala spend between Shillings
2-5 million on fuel per trip to or from Kalangala.
He is optimistic that the new ferry will start
operations by mid-December. He hopes that MV NODL will expand
the current network by picking passengers from Port Bell in Kampala, Nakiwogo
in Entebbe to boost tourism along Kampala-Entebbe and Kalangala-Entebbe routes.
The private water vessel has been in the pipeline
since 2018. It was initially expected to commence operations in December 2018
to serve Kalangala's outlying islands. All the major water vessels dock at
Bugala Island. Kalangala comprises 84 islands.
However, Musoke says the plan has since changed,
with the aim of increasing trips along Kampala-Entebbe and Kalangala-Entebbe
routes. Passengers are excited about the new ferry, saying it will help
decongest MV Kalangala and carry people who will miss space on the old ferry.
Godfrey Mayinja, a resident of Manyago in Entebbe
wants the new ferry to charge under Shillings 40,000 per trip. Mayinja
says the new ferry will relieve frequent travellers to and from Kalangala
because they will have another cheaper option other than using private
Mayinja adds that passengers from Kampala will no
longer have to bear with the heavy traffic jams along the Kampala-Entebbe highway
to board ferries or boats at Nakiwogo in Entebbe.
//Cue in: "Kiba kirungi...
Cue out:...bwa Kampala."//
Currently, MV Natalie and Vanessa that ply the
same route charge Shillings 35,000 for a single trip to Kalangala and Shillings
70,000 for a return journey during the week.
The vessels also charge
Shillings 45,000 for a one-way ticket and Shillings 85,000 for a return journey
on weekends. The vessels take an average of one hour and half hours on
water because they are speedboats.
Meanwhile, local boats charge
Shillings 25,000 per trip. The journey is about three and a half hours.