A month after it failed to deliver its second ferry on the Bukakata – Luku route, Kalangala Infrastructure Services (KIS), the local subsidiary of the US and UK-based Infraco ltd, has announced that it has finally secured all the funding needed to start the implementation of the infrastructural development projects in Kalangala district.
According to the public-private partnership that the company entered into with the government in 2005, KIS undertook to improve water transport between Bukakata landing site and Buggala island as part of the government incentives to the development of the oil palm growing project in Kalangala. In August last year, KIS launched its first ferry, MV Pearl that took over the Bukakata – Luku route, promising to bring the second ferry by January this year.
Despite the increase in traffic going to Kalangala through Bukakata, the company remains unclear as to when the new ferry will come.
Besides the ferry, KIS has embarked on other development projects that include generation of electricity and construction of a transmission line covering Buggala island, expansion and rehabilitation of the 66km Kalangala main road from the Bugoma ferry landing site to Mulabana landing site and construction of a water supply system for Kalangala town council and seven other landing sites of Malore, Bwendero, Kibanga-Mabuga, Kagulube, Bugoma, Kasekulo and Mulabana.
KIS managing director John Opiro said since the company had the necessary funding, it is now moving from project development to implementation. The Observer has learnt that KIS has subcontracted FERDSULT ltd to undertake the $ 17m power generation project that must be ready within 12 months.
The 1.6MW power generation plant will be at Bukuzindu in Mugoye sub-county.
“This plant will generate electricity using a hybrid solar thermal system. Extensive transmission lines covering most of the island will also be constructed to supply power to various locations on Buggala island,” said Opiro.
Although in a previous interview last year, Opiro indicated to The Observer that a second ferry was under construction in Mwanza, Tanzania, a new statement issued by the company indicates that construction of the ferry has just commenced in Kisumu, Kenya, and is expected to be completed mid this year.
This comes amid cries of failing businesses in Kalangala following a drop in the number of tourists going to the islands after the breakdown of the MV Kalangala ship, which connects the islands from Nakiwogo, Entebbe. A private ship MV Amani, owned by Earthwise Ferries, which had taken over the Entebbe route, has also suspended its trips operations after recording losses.
“A number of businesses are recording losses because most tourists that had booked for holidays in the district have cancelled, and besides, the cost of bringing goods has also gone up,” Willy Lugoloobi, the district chairman, told The Observer.
MV Kalangala broke down at the beginning of the year, one week after it had been serviced by the ministry of Works and Transport. Some people think there is more to this breakdown.
“The ministry is not being honest; it should tell us the truth and also pay much attention to the maintenance of the ship [MV Kalangala] because once it breaks down, it affects trade, tourism and the referral system,” Fred Badda, the Bujumba MP, said.
With the Entebbe route cut-off, KIS’ MV Pearl remains the only gateway to Kalangala which means increased demand for its services.
“We now run 10 trips a day which are not enough because at full capacity, our ferry carries 200 passengers and 20 vehicles. If we have to carry more passengers, the number of vehicles has to reduce, and that’s what we are doing,” Opiro said.