Residents of Bunyoro and West Nile sub regions have celebrated the resumption of the free ferry services between the two regions.
MV Albert Nile 1, a UNRA ferry that plies the Wanseko—Panyimur route resumed operations on December 22, 2021 after a one year hiatus following the rising water levels which led to flooding on lakes and rivers in Uganda.
Ferry operations across Wanseko in Buliisa District and Panyimur in Pakwach District were halted to allow the water levels reduce and to guarantee safety of ferry users along this crossing.
The landing sites were submerged when the Lake Albert shoreline at Wanseko shifted by more than 600 meters into the town center.
This prompted UNRA to ground the vessel in June 2020. It was this act of nature that paved the way for the identification and construction of alternative temporary landing sites that provide the ferry with supportive docking points with the view of ensuring safety and easing the movement of passengers, goods and services.
Fred Jachan Omach, the UNRA board chairman, revealed that the remaining two of the four acres of land at Panyimur Landing Site of Albert Nile in Packwach district will be used to put up offices and accommodation facilities for staff. Two acres were submerged by the rising water levels.
The acting Director, Road Infrastructure Protection at UNRA, John Bosco Ssejemba said they are excited that MV Albert Nile 1 operations have resumed.
“We are aware that the ferry was enabling trade, access to health care, agriculture, security operations, to mention but a few. Therefore, we have been working tirelessly to restore the services,” he said.
The ferry transports 250 passengers each day and 168,000 annually. It has 300 floats and emergency boats for evacuation purposes in case of an accident. The double-deck ferry also has flush toilets, and a labour room in the eventuality of pregnancy related emergencies. It should be noted that the UNRA ferry is a critical enabler of the oil sector.
The Hoima – Wanseko road that is supported by the ferry, is enabler of the Tilenga Total upstream project oil production project and Total feeder pipeline project.
Parliament passed the East African Crude Oil Pipeline [EACOP] Special Provisions Bill, 2021, paving the way for the development and implementation of the much anticipated oil project. The passing of the law is a big step forward for Uganda which hopes to attract over $20bn worth of investments in the oil industry and create over 200,000 jobs during the construction phase of the pipeline.
Rwot Charkes Ombidi III, the Paramount Chief of Ker Panyimur Kwonga Chiefdom, expressed his gratitude to government for the free ferry services, which he said would ease transport and communication between West Nile and the Bunyoro region.
“We shall enjoy Christmas and the New Year, because of the hard work of UNRA,” he said.