Hundreds stranded as Kalangala ferries suspend operations

Ferry in Kalangala District
MV Pearl and MV Ssese have significantly enriched the logistics within the area, and boost the economic development of Kalangala. Courtesy Photo.

A transport crisis hits Kalangala district following the suspension of operations by Kalangala Infrastructural Services Limited over government failure to meet financial obligations.

The latest emergency schedule released by Kalangala Infrastructural Services Limited indicates that starting February 20, 2017, the two ferries MV Pearl and MV Ssese will only work on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

MV Pearl and MV Ssese provide free transport services to travelers under a Public Private Partnership arrangement between Kalangala Infrastructural Services Limited and Government of Uganda.

Government pays the company 3 billion Shillings every year to provide transportation services to hundreds of travelers to the Island.

John Opondo, the Managing Director of Kalangala Infrastructural Services Limited says it is no longer possible for them to operate every day because their operations are frustrated by the delayed release of funding from government.

Opondo adds that while they negotiate the release of funds, operations will be called off for four days each week. This implies that the ferries will make nine round trips between Kachanga Landing Site in Masaka district and Luku Landing Site in Bugoma Kalangala instead of the usual 20 round trips.

The decision has paralyzed transport between Masaka and Kalangala.

On Monday, Kalangala district officials led by Willy Lugoloobi, the LCV Chairman met with the ferry operators to persuade them not to suspend operations in vain.  According to Lugoloobi, the suspension of operations will paralyze business activities in district given the fact that most of the goods and services consumed in Kalangala get to Kalangala through Masaka.

The Ministry of Works and Transport Spokesperson Susan Kataike declined to comment on the latest development saying that that both government and ferry operators are in talks over the same.

Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) says they are in negotiation to persuade Kalangala Infrastructural Services not ground their ferries. UNRA Spokesperson Mark Ssali said on phone that the agency and the ferry operators are holding more discussions to ensure the ferries work today.

By this morning, several people were still stranded at either sides of Masaka and Kalangala after the ferries refused to work.

– Uganda Radio Network