Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) has Friday launched the MV Buvuma on the Kiyindi – Buvuma ferry route with a 300 passengers and 12 cars capacity, more than twice the capacity of the old ferry.
The Kiyindi – Buvuma ferry route connects the Buvuma Islands to the mainland of Buikwe District.
Within the last 5 years, UNRA has had to interrupt ferry service delivery severally and longer to conduct repairs and maintenance due to the aged components of MV Kiyindi (the old ferry) in order to guarantee safety of passengers.
This resulted into inconveniences on users of the ferry.
Given the age of old ferry, UNRA undertook a plan to replace it with a bigger and more modern ferry.
Construction of the new ferry (MV Buvuma) started in January 2019 and works were completed in May 2020.
The construction was supervised by UNRA, Ministry of Works & Transport and M/s International Register of Shipping (IRS).
Works Minister, Gen Katumba Wamala who officiated at the launch said government is committed to investing in developing of the in inland water transport infrastructure on major lakes, Victoria, Kyoga, Albert, Bunyonyi and River Nile.
“Water transport continues to gain ground because it is less expensive, energy efficient and environmentally friendly transportation system, ” he said.
He said the commissioning of the state-of-the-art vessel will enable users sail faster, and that the vessel has more safety features than the one that has been there and more carriage capacity for both passengers and cargo.
UNRA Executive Director, Allen Kagina says the new ferry was built to both National and International Maritime Standards of safety and ship build and therefore, safety of passengers can be guaranteed.
Kagina said the new ferry will provide easier access to social services through easier and quicker transportation of government workers to the Buvuma Islands; and quick access to Social services on the mainland.
She added that it will boost economic growth through faster and reliable transportation of agricultural produce and linking them to markets.
It will also reduce in water transport related mortality rate as more passengers will be using the ferry than canoes which are risky, she added.
The new ferry has two decks and it was certified to carry up to a maximum of 300 passengers and 12 cars. This passenger capacity is more than twice the capacity of the old ferry.
The new ferry is faster than the old one. So far it has been tested to take approximately 40 minutes to sail from Kiyindi to Buvuma whereas the old ferry takes approximately 1 hour.
It is equipped with adequate safety features, namely; Life Jackets, Buoyants, a Rescue Boat a robust Fire fighting system, a motorized anchor for easy anchoring of the ferry in case of an emergency, Two Generators and an Inverter system, a Ballast system to pump water in and out of the hull to compensate for a change in cargo load, shallow draft conditions, and bad weather.
The ferry has adequate Nautical and Communication equipment to ensure reliable operation. In addition, the ferry has emergency washrooms.
Government also has plans to further increase ferry service coverage on Lake Victoria. Currently, UNRA is working with Ministry of Agriculture through the Vegetable Oil Development Project to construct another new ferry for the Kiyindi – Buvuma route. This ferry will be ready to commence operations within one year.
The Authority will conduct ferry and ferry landing site-engineering assessments by the end of this year to develop ferries connecting the Islands of Koome, Damba, and Busi to the mainland areas.