By Samuel Balagadde
After refurbishing MV Kaawa, the Government is yet to repair MV Pamba, which is grounded at Port Bell in Luzira, a city suburb.
The vessel was grounded in 2005 for non-conformity to seaworthiness and lack of insurance. It ceased operation immediately after MV Kabalega had sunk in Lake Victoria after colliding with MV Kaawa, which has just resumed operation.
MV Pamba is among the three wagon vessels of the same make including MV Kabalega, which sunk in Lake Victoria in 2005 and MV Kaawa.
The three ferries were ordered from Belgium in the 1970s.
According to a Uganda Rail Corporation (URC) performance report for the financial year 2011- 2012, $4m ( about sh10b) is projected for the refurbishment of the vessel, which will be instrumental in backing up MV Kaawa for cargo transport from Mwanza and Kisumu.
Eng. Charles Kateeba, the URC chief mechanical engineer, said during the joint transport sector review workshop at Hotel Africana that they have achieved a lot including rehabilitation of MV Kaawa, rehabilitation of 400 wagons which have jump-started capital investments by Rift Valley Railways.
However, URC is challenged by an ageing human resource of whom 80% are above 50 years of age, dilapidated infrastructure and an inadequate legal and regulatory framework.
In 2009, the World Bank financed the refurbishment of MV Kaawa at a cost of $3.2m.
The repairs were done by the Southern Engineering Company from Mombasa, Kenya.
Susan Kataike, the ministry of works and transport spokesperson said the public should take advantage of the improving ferry services to start international trade with neighbouring countries at relatively low cost.