Kalangala travelers are questioning the safety of MV Amani, one of the vessels that ply the Entebbe – Kalangala route over persistent breakdown.
The 40-seater capacity vessel is run by Earth Wise Ventures, as a private service provider on the route and is currently the only vessel to the Island following the suspension of operations by MV Kalangala, the government vessel.
MV Kalangala ferry, which initially plied from Nakiwogo landing site in Entebbe to Lutoboka, Buggala Islands in Kalangala District suspended operations to allow it undergo servicing over ten months ago. The servicing was initially expected to last for a week.
In order to bridge the gap brought about by the absence of a ferry to the islands, MV Amani, which had initially been suspended by the Works and Transport Ministry for operating without insurance came on board. It has however suffered several technical glitches that have seen it stuck on Lake Victoria, sometimes minutes after takeoff.
Early this week, the same vessel broke down and subsequently flooded, sending travelers into panic. This is one of the many break down incidences on whose basis, travelers are raising safety concerns. They are particularly perturbed that the vessel continues operating without major repairs.
Valeriano Ssenabulya, the Speaker of Kalangala district council claims that MV Amani is a risk to travelers. He is equally concerned that although the ship has suffered constant technical and mechanical glitches, its operators have not considered major servicing but often get it back on the route upon seeking temporary solutions.
Jim Kabili Jagenda, another frequent traveler with MV Amani claims the ship is a time bomb and has opted to stop using it. He explains that the vessel has not only become unstable on rough waters but keeps on flooding, a development which puts passengers lives at risk.
Mary Nakitende, a resident of Kalangala is concerned that despite the poor services provided by MV Amani operators, they recently doubled their charges from Ugx 15,000 to Ugx 30,000. Yet still, no measures were taken to address the persistent safety and sanitation concerns.
Teopista Lule Ssenkungu, the Kalangala Deputy RDC concurs. She claims that MV Amani appears to be very old and dilapidated and demands that government returns MV Kalangala to salvage the situation and improve convenience for travelers.
However Michael Okwaringa, the Captain of MV Amani insists the ship is safe. He tells Uganda Radio network on phone that it was experiencing oil leakages, a problem which has since been sorted. He also explained that on a few occasions when it got stuck on Lake Victoria, it was as a result of fishnets that got entangled in its engine propellers.
Susan Kataike, the Ministry of Works and Transport Spokesperson says MV Amani is operating legally although it experiences technical problems just like any other vessel with a lengthy lifespan.
According to Kataike, upon inspection, they discovered that it is very old and most of the gadgets are worn out. She however says the inspection team found out that because of its make, it cannot sink but can only get stuck on water.