By Samuel Balagadde
The wagon ferry Marine Vessel (MV) Kaawa is among other vessels that were ordered from Belgium by the late president Idi Amin.
Maritime expert sources from the works and transport ministry, said the three vessels MV Kaawa, MV Kabalega and MV Pamba were brought into the country in parts that were later assembled at Port Bell pier in Luzira, on the shores of Lake Victoria.
MV Kaawa was the first to be assembled in 1983 with the dry dock and the rescue boat, MV Mwanga, which is grounded at the Port Bell pier.
All the three vessels were plying Port Bell in Luzira, Mwanza in Tanzania and Kisumu in Kenya mainly for fuel and other assorted items.
In 2005, MV Kaawa collided with MV Kabalega, which submerged in Lake Victoria, 50 metres deep, about 50km from Port Bell pier.
MV Kaawa was grounded pending repairs and MV Pamba was also discontinued from operations due to lack of insurance among other seaworthiness requirements.
In 2009, the World Bank financed the refurbishment of MV Kaawa at a cost of $3.2m. The vessel will soon resume operation after it had been properly repaired.
However, repairs of MV Pamba await financial allocation. Plans are underway to replace the submerged MV Kabalega though there is a possibility of retrieving it from the lake. It has been submerged for seven years now.
The MV Kaawa was repaired by the Southern Engineering Company from Mombasa, Kenya who will soon hand it over for commissioning. Later, it will hand it over to Uganda Railways Corporation (URC), which will also hand it over to Rift Valley Railway, the concessionaires of URC.