Here is how we can make water transport safe



About 4 month ago, I mentioned an issue to do with “National Oil Distributors” the company managing MV Kalangala.

As clients, we had a booking inquiry for our tourists before departure, the phone number listed on the sign post 0392-176739 & website all are not functioning.

I wrote to UNRA, and ministry of Works to express my disappointment, I never got any feedback.

Question: If National Oil Distributors LTD cannot manage a phone contact or a website that costs 500,000shs to maintain, how can they effectively manage a multi-billion ferry #MVKALANGALA

On a personal level, I frequently use the Nakiwogo-Buwaya route, like twice a week. Majority of times I have to use the boats available because either the ferry is on the other side, or I am in a hurry and I cannot wait for the ferry.

From my personal experience, 98% all transport boats plying back and forth between Nakiwogo and Buwaya land sites are not worthy to carry passengers, they are all rotten, leaking, with too many patches, and you can visibly see the rotten timber, the leakages and the patches.

The life jackets used by these small boats are all Chinese sub-standard and cannot hold more than 20Kg of buoyancy, and this is in the full know of the MARINE POLICE in Entebbe, every time there’s patrols and routine checks, the marine police is bribed and they will back off.

As a Ugandan in the tourism industry, I have used majority of all UNRA operated ferries we have in Uganda, but to my surprise, I am always the only one wearing a life jacket, even UNRA Ferry operators do not use life jackets.

According to guidelines on the ferries, once a driver loads the vehicle on the ferry, they are supposed to come out of the vehicle. On daily basis I see drivers seated inside their vehicles as the ferry sails on the waters

Way forward

Because of the dangerous conditions and overloading of our boats, I opted every time to take a special hire boat which costs 5000 to cross to Buwaya for the safety of my life, and strict use of life Jacket

The government needs to identify or procure a supplier of genuine standard subsidised life jacks.

Ordinary Ugandans will for sure not manage the costs of standard high quality life jackets (an 100 N Buoyancy life Jacket costs between 200,000-450,000shs depending on the supplier and quantities purchased)

Politics must be completely removed from management of our water bodies safety standards i.e. if by standards Marine Police, UNRA, Ministry of Works teamed up to destroy all rotten boats, I am sure, some politician will rise up and stop the exercise in the name of “voters".

Recently, I watched this issue being debated in our Parliament that UPDF was mishandling fishermen.

UPDF has done a very good job.

Lastly, I have seen boats taking foreign tourists to NGAMBA ISLAND in lake Victoria, are these boats sea worthy, are they licensed, before we get another tragedy.

The author is a travel consultant.



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