Kampala — The return of MV Kaawa has significantly increased Maritime business between Port Bell in Uganda and Mwanza in Tanzania.
The ship that was recently recommissioned by the Minister of Works and Transport Hon. Abraham Byandala and officially handed over to Rift Valley Railways (RVR) for official management has so far made five round trips between the ports of Mwanza and Port Bell. This has attracted many and kept the wagon ferry busy, only stopping respite when loading and off loading at the different ports.
Sammy Gachuhi RVR General Manager Uganda said, "MV Kaawa is an added advantage as a supplement to railway performance operated by Rift Valley Railways. It has acted to boost trade among the East African community by opening up Uganda directly to Tanzania. It also provides opportunity to trade through Kisumu the second most important city after Kampala on the greater Lake Victoria basin. In all, the MV Kaawa links the railway to Mwanza and Bukoba (Tanzania) to Entebbe, Port Bell and Jinja in Uganda, a start to a more balanced cargo routing and East Africa integrations which is the way forward to economic development."
He added "With the capacity to carry up to more than 1100 gross tons, the wagon ferry gives us an opportunity to service new clients on the Southern route as well. Some of our customers like Ms Bakhresa ltd, Equator shipping line, and Mukwano have enjoyed this service for two months now, moving electric poles, wheat grains, maize, tobacco to mention a few."
Commenting on MV Kaawa services, Marine Manager Mr. Elias Kaijuka said, "It is interesting how many customers have picked interest in doing business on the MV Kaawa. Her arrival was long overdue. The customers prefer to use Kaawa because she can carry a huge load and is as good as new which restores confidence that that their goods will reach their destinations in one piece. So far over the past two months RVR has conducted 5 round business trips between Portbell and Mwanza using MV Kaawa carrying approximately 1000 tons of cargo per trip. It is proving to be a good complement to the railways services we are currently running between Kampala and Mombasa and will open up the market for many traders."
Henry Kabugo an exporter of Maize said "We are excited about the business that Kaawa has opened up for us Maize exporters. We previously have been moving our maize by the smaller vessels on the route. But Kaawa came on board at just the right time, during the maize harvest season, and I personally have been exporting about 500tons of maize per trip which is half of each ship load. Kaawa has opened up market in Mwanza for us Maize exporters and also for other business men."
Gachuhi also noted that government is in the process of rehabilitating and upgrading the MV Pamba which will further enhance RVR's railway freight capacity on the Southern corridor. This will boost trade along this route and improve social, economic and political integration through increased access to markets.
MV Kaawa is one among many projects that RVR has embarked on in its five-year turnaround programme that it embarked on early this year. The projects include; Rehabilitation of 365 wagons through a KFW grant, and overhaul of 8 locomotives that will significantly improve RVRs efficiency. To date, over 97 wagons have been overhauled at the Nalukolongo Railway workshop and work on locomotive overhaul has commenced; the replacement of 70km of rail between Mombasa and Nairobi in Kenya has completed 17Km so far, and repair of nine major culverts between Busembatia and Jinja in Uganda which has currently registered 70% of work progress.