Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) has commenced works on submerged piers in different parts of the country.
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.
In April, UNRA suspended operations of most ferries on Lake Victoria and River Nile after their docking piers were submerged by the rising water levels of Lake Victoria. 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.
Due to excessive rainfall in East Africa, Lake Victoria water levels across Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania increased drastically, from 12 meters in October 2019 to 13.48 meters in May 2020, the highest level ever recorded in 50 years.
Allan Ssempebwa Kyobe, the UNRA Spokesperson says that the works will be completed at the end of August. The piers are Mbulamuti for the MV Mbulamuti, Nakiwogo for MV Kalangala and Masindi for MV Masindi Port.
“The landing sites were low lying that is why they got submerged and now we need to pile more stones and other materials to raise the docking areas,” Ssempebwa says.
Last month, the government, released 21 Billion Shillings as supplementary funds for emergency infrastructure works on roads and docking areas following the impact of the prolonged rainy season.
The submerged piers have affected transport in Entebbe, Buwaya, Kayunga, Kamuli, Apac and Masindi since the ferries can’t dock. This has forced residents in the area to resort to road transport and speed boats which charge exorbitant fares.
Some residents in Entebbe who have gardens or get foodstuffs from Buwaya decry the high transport costs charged by boat operators and taxis. They spend about shillings 8,000 for a return trip on boats and about 25,000 shillings on the road.
//Cue in: ‘Kati amaato…
Cue out:…olumonde waffe.”//
At Bukakata, the docking piers have been partially submerged. As a result, the two ferries that ply the Bukakata-Kalangala route dock sideways to access the part of the pier that remains above water. However, loading and offloading vehicles is a big challenge since the vessels are not anchored on a stable platform.
In Buvuma, the suspension of MV Kiyindi ferry operations due to the submerged docking pier has affected business.
The fuel stations at Kirongo landing site and Luwanda trading centre suspended their services due to failure by trucks to supply fuel from the mainland resulting from the suspension of ferry services.