The ministry of Works and Transport has licensed a new ferry to ply the route between Bukakata in Masaka and Luku landing site on Bugala island.
MV Pearl, managed by Kalangala Infrastructure Services (KIS), will transport both passengers and vehicles on one of the busiest waterways on Lake Victoria. Kalangalala remains an attractive place for business, where a huge palm oil project is located, and the tourism industry, as vast areas there are pristine. With a loading capacity of 200 passengers (160 seated and 40 standing) and 20 vehicles, the new MV Pearl is widely expected to ease movement for both business and tourists.
Given its efficient and new machinery, MV Pearl takes only 20 minutes from Bukakata to Luku. Kalangala district authorities were excited by the news, according to a press statement from KIS. They say that passengers will now make multiple journeys a day and carry a lot more merchandise and commodities.
In a statement issued after commissioning the ferry last week, Kalangala deputy resident district commissioner, Dominic Tibasimwa, described it as a "historic development for the people of Kalangala."
He noted that for the last 20 years, Kalangala has been relying on the government-run ferry, which inconvenienced travellers, given its unreliable schedules.
"The launch of a reliable and scheduled ferry service will provide a much-needed boost for the economy of the island as it becomes increasingly linked with the mainland," Tibasimwa said.
In 2009, the government signed an agreement with KIS in a public private partnership to replace the outdated Bukakata ferry with two modern ones that can ply the route on a regular timetable. MV Pearl is one of the two new state-of-the-art ferries. The second will be delivered later, KIS promised in a statement.
According to the ministry spokeswoman, Susan Kataike, passengers will not be charged for transiting on MV Pearl. She explained that the ministry considers the ferry service as a 'landing bridge,' which the government is mandated to provide to taxpayers.