KIS had grounded the ferry at Bugoma landing site in Kalangala early this year after the government declined to advance the company up to seven billion shillings to enable its operations.
MV Pearl, the new private ferry that has been shrouded in controversy has finally been cleared to start free operations Lake Victoria.
The new ferry is owned by Kalangala Infrastructural Services Limited (KIS).
KIS had grounded the ferry at Bugoma landing site in Kalangala early this year after the Government declined to advance the company up to seven billion shillings to enable its operations.
Since 2010, Kalangala residents and leaders have been opposed to the ferry operation citing unfavorable clauses in the agreement. The leaders cited a clause which mandated passengers to pay on this ferry yet government said it would be free.
However, the ferry has finally started operations boosting transport on the lake between Masaka and Kalangala.
Dan Alinange, the spokesperson for Uganda National Roads Authority—UNRA says the ferry has started operations after Government advanced part of seven billion shillings to KIS.
He declined to give details but said Finance and Works Ministries and KIS management met President Yoweri Museveni recently and all the controversial issues were addressed.
Alinange says after signing the public-private partnership agreement, KIS is now mandated to transport passengers free of charge since government has taken over the burden of meeting all the costs.
Alinange says the launch of the new ferry means that UNRA plans to withdraw the old Bukakata-Luku Ferry. He explains that they are going to take it for rehabilitation before relocating it to Kiyindi landing site next year.
John Opillo, the KIS Managing Director also confirmed to URN receiving some funds but declined to give details. He says the new ferry is larger with capacity to carry 20 vehicles compared to the old ferry which was carrying less.
He also claims that KIS ferry is able to make at least six journeys across Lake Victoria compared to the five journeys which Bukakata-Luku ferry makes. He explains that although the old ferry spent 1hour to connect between Bukakata and Bugoma landing sites in Kalangala, the new ferry will take exactly 40minutes.
Bujumba County Member of Parliament Fred Badda, one of the leaders who were opposed to this arrangement, says he is happy about the ferry. He however says they need government to conduct a public hearing in Kalangala to sensitize people about the agreements they signed with the firm.
Badda claims that residents in Kalangala are still doubtful of the operations of this ferry because they fear, it may charge them money the moment government stops paying for them.
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