MV Bukakata Ferry Grounded for Sixth Year

2332 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
The ferry was initially used to provide public transport between Bukakata mainland in Masaka district and Luku-bay on Bugala Island in Kalangala district. But it was withdrawn in 2013 after government engaged a private service provider for the route.

MV Bukakata-Luku, a government ferry under the supervision of Uganda National Roads Authority-UNRA remains abandoned at Port Bell in Luzira, six years after it was withdrawn from the route.

The ferry was initially used to provide public transport between Bukakata mainland in Masaka district and Luku-bay on Bugala Island in Kalangala district. But it was withdrawn in 2013 after government engaged a private service provider for the route.

The then State Minister for Works and Transport Engineer John Byabagambi indicated that the ferry would be allocated another route to Islands that had not been covered. The vessel has however remained unutilized and has since been abandoned at Port Bell in Luzira.

Aggrey Ojiambo, the senior marine engineer at Uganda Railways Cooperation (URC), the entity that manages the repair station at Luzira says that the ferry has overstayed on their repair floating facility, limiting their capacity to handle other vessels and attend to emergencies.

He explains the ferry has since been parked at URC's dry-docking facility where it was deserted by the operators who have failed to place any orders for repair.   According to him, repeated reminders to the relevant authorities to get the ferry off the dry-docking facility have yielded no results.
 
//Cue in; the long stay…
Cue out………has overstayed//
 
//Cue (Luganda) tuli benyamivu nyo…
Cue out…………………..kweri kiba kizibu//
 
Ojiambo adds that the vessel could also be subjected to several other mechanical defaults as a result of being non-operational. He, however, reveals that UNRA also owes them huge sums of money accumulated from the long time the ferry has been parked at the facility. The local dry-docking facility is hired at USD 400 (1.4 million Shillings) each day.
 
//Cue in; actually it needs...
Cue out…Us dollars per day."//
 
Tonny Kavuma Bafirawala, the chief mechanical engineer in the Ministry of Works and Transport says they are equally concerned over the vessel's long stay at the dry-docking facility. He, however, adds that the government is still looking for funds for its repairs.
He says they are also looking into possibilities of finding development partners who can help them re-operationalize the ferry to attend to the existing needs.
 
//Cue in; I'm totally concerned…
Cue out……a challenge that we have//
 
//Cue in; (Luganda) ekintu kyonna kiva…
Cue out…okuziteeka kw'eno emmeeri."//
 
Mark Ssali, the Uganda National Roads Authority spokesperson says they are aware of their obligations on the grounded ferry and are still waiting for the government to allocate the authority funds.