Following its rehabilitation, MV Pamba has resumed operations on Lake Victoria after 16 years of absence to boost Uganda’s water transport business.
Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja on Thursday flagged off the return to the waters at a function attended by a number of officials including the Works and Transport Minister, Gen Katumba Wamala.
“Water transport is one of the cheapest means of transport but has not been fully exploited in Uganda. I am happy that MV Pamba is back to business,”Nabbanja said.
Nabbanja however noted that there is need to ensure the new vessel is affordable for those who want to use it to avoid scenarios of a white elephant.
She added that there needs to be more vessels on Ugandan waters to transport cargo and ensure the country’s roads are saved from damage.
“We lose a lot of money to repair roads instead of investing in such vessels.”
Works and Transport Minister, Gen Katumba Wamala said the return of MV Pamba will boost Uganda’s capacity to handle business on Lake Victoria.
“With MV Pamba getting to sail, we are going to increase on the tonnage we are hauling through the lake. We think that on a monthly basis, we should be able to bring in at least 21,000 tons of cargo into the country,” he said.
The 36-year-old vessel will operate on Lake Victoria between Port Bell , Jinja, Mwanza and Kisumu making an average of 12 journeys per month.
According to Stanley Ssendegeya, the Uganda Railways Corporation Managing Director, the only cargo vessel can carry up to 1000 tons of cargo or one million litres of fuel per trip.
“We charge less than half the other modes of transport in terms of prices. We will charge $20 between Mwanza and Kisumu,”Ssendegeya said.
Built in 1986 by the Belgian Ship Incorporation, MV Pamba was manufactured under the same arrangement as MV Kabalega, MV Kaawa and MV Mwanga.
The government owned vessel is managed by Uganda Railways Corporation but was grounded in 2005 after colliding with MV Kawa a few metres away from Port Bell.
In 2020, Chinese engineering company, Mango Group was given the contract to rehabilitate and upgrade the vessel.
The vessel with 24 crew has the capacity to carry 22 wagons(22 40ft containers or 44 20ft containers).