Kalangala in a shell, save our souls – Mariners

BY Novatus Baliremwa Mukajanga

It is no longer a secret, to unlock Kalangala potential; the District of 84 islands in the mass of water, a proper safe articulated marine transport is inescapable.

The challenge to this transport is in multiple folds, the low population density on the Islands, numerous landing sites/shore villages, fuel expense, un surveyed lake(the last survey was done in 1900-01 by Commander B. Whitehouse R.N and Mr C.S Hunter), and transport modes cannibalism. Very few serious private profit making investors can have an interest in such a venture.

The few who used to link Bukasa Island and Entebbe at Kasenyi  eg.  Mv Mkombozi, were forced out of business due to stiff competition with locals who operate wooden crude seafaring boats locally known as binaara that cruise at a snail pace speed. Evasion of taxes on local produce like timber, charcoal, wood fuels and transportation of the prohibited immature undersize fish too fanned the smugglers to avoid using the accredited vessels since they are passengers and cargo had to go through security checks before boarding.

Having a safe transport  using modern fast moving ferries like Dodekanisos pride that cruise at 32knots, can interconnect least 30 habitable islands within a day.

The ferries that cruise beyond 50 knots are unsuitable for islands interconnectivity. The main reasons to these are that the islands are closely located and the lake is infested with many submerged rocks. These rocks are very catastrophic to the maritime operations, and have claimed many lives.

Notwithstanding, the flying boat can augment the delivery of the critically ill patients and expectant mothers very fast to the health centres within Kalangala or on main land.

A flying boat is a fixed winged seaplance with a hull, allowing it to land on water, that usually has no type of landing gear to allow operation on land. It uses a purpose-designed fuselage which can float, granting the aircraft bouyancy. Flying boats may be stabilized by under-wing floats or by wing-like projections (called sponsons) from the fuselage.

Since it needs no run way and Kalangala is fully bathed with water mass, this is the best ambulance transport to the Islanders. Only a little infrastructural investment at the shore is required, where the craft can easily dock. The vast mass of water and prevailing winds, boost the kissing (landing) and taking off.

More so, tourism can be enhanced once such an aerial transport is embraced. One can have an aerial view of the lake, hills, flora, landing sites before landing on the intended destination on the island.

In order to unlock the hidden potential on water transport, The Uganda Government through The Ministry of Works and Transport(MoW&T) has hired a  Dutch Consulting firm Ms Marine &Transport Business Solutions (MTBS) of Rotterdam- Netherlands to conduct   “COnSulting Services to undertake due dilligence for Private sector participation in the Lake Victoria Transport ProGram”

The Government of Uganda (GoU) has plans to: (i) remodel and expand the two ports of Port Bell and Jinja pier (including civil works on buildings, structures, and necessary dredging, channelization and stabilization works), (ii) improve the hinterland road and rail connections (either through the rehabilitation, widening of existing links if feasible or through the construction of new links); (iii) refurbish the existing wagon ferries (MV Pamba and MV Mwanga).

The MoWT has sought the support of the IDA to fund these objectives, under the proposed Lake Victoria Transport Program – Phase 1 (SOP 1) for Uganda.  As a contribution to the preparation of the LVTP in Uganda, the MoWT has requested support from the Public Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) to assist in identifying and assessing the different modalities for potential private operation and investment in the transport services on the Lake, and the operation of the inland ports.

Out of the four Kalangala’s major inland ports only one though in its dilapidated state,  Lutoboka  pier is still operational. Thanks to the long range craft Mv Kalangala that plies here daily, between Lutoboka at Kalangala and Nakiwogo(Port Alice) at Entebbe.

The rest of the landings, Kiwungu at Bukasa Island, Kawafu at Bubeke Island, and Semawundo at Bufumira Island are completely dead. This was after MoW&T then PWD (Public Works Department) grounded their one and only one Mv Barbus, that was plying on these piers. The landing sites where these piers are located were later to be seized by NFA (National Forestry Authority).

Oil Palm Uganda Ltd (OPUL) the subsidiary of BIDCO has proposed to undertake a construction of a modern waiting bay and a canteen at Lutoboka pier. In the same footsteps, the Ministry of Works has been requested to refurbish the jetty and remodel it into a multiple quays to accommodate two or more vessels at once. The District Engineer’s Office has provided the working drawings for the said.

Artistic impression of proposed Modern Lutoboka pier

Until these proposals are realized, Kalangala District remains in a Shell, and only Government shall Save Our Souls

Author: Eng. Baliremwa Novatus Mukajanga, MSc ( Structural Eng), BSc(Eng), MIET,MUIPE, Reg P.Eng- Kalangala District Engineer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *