"We have registered an overwhelming number of passengers to and from Kalangala islands."
ENTEBBE - The intervention of the works and transport ministry in doubling trips for MV Kalangala has done little in containing the influx of passengers travelling to and from the Kalangala islands via Nakiwogo landing site in Entebbe as the festive season hits its climax.
The move took effect on Sunday.
It is among other interventions by the ministry aimed at protecting passengers using water transport from unseaworthy vessels infamous for overloading and accidents.
Apart from the usual trips from Kalangala, two others have been added.
Previously, the first trip from Kalangala started at 8:30am and reached Nakiwogo landing site in Entebbe at 11:00am.
The other started at 2:00pm from Entebbe, with arrival at Lutoboka landing site in Kalangala at 5:00pm.
With the involvement of the transport ministry, the number of trips has doubled.
MV Kalangala now leaves Lutoboka landing site in Kalangala at exactly 7:00 am destined for Nakiwogo landing site in Entebbe. It docks here at 10:30am for one hour, before setting off at 11:30am for the return trip.
It reaches Kalangala at 2:30pm, before doing the reverse trip from Lutoboka at 3:00pm headed for Nakiwogo.
Henry Ategeka from the maritime administration department of the transport ministry says they have instituted a standby rescue team to handle any emergencies along the route.
"We have registered an overwhelming number of passengers to and from Kalangala islands and we could not tempt them to use unsafe water vessels," he said.
"This arrangement is running throughout the festive season."
Sadala Musoke, the chief executive officer of National Oil Distributor, the company contracted by the ministry of works and transport to operate MV Kalangala, said on Sunday that increased trips for the vessel have greatly controlled the traffic on the route.
MV Kalangala has three classes: Passengers in VIP pay sh20,000, those in First Class part with sh14,000 while those in Ordinary Class pay sh10,000.
The vessel started operating in 2005 as a presidential fulfillment of the pledge to people of Kalangala for improved water transport lining the islands to mainland.
The government, under the Public Private Partnership with Kalangala Infrastructure Services, is also running two ferries - MV Pearl and MV Ssese - that alternate between Bukakata landing site in Masaka and Luuku in Kalangala.
However, plans are underway by the government to add more vessels connecting Kalangala to mainlands.
Meanwhile, the festive fever has hit the roof across the country.
This is what the mood is like in Kagadi at Kagadi Market, in western Uganda . . .
Aramanzani Kisembo, a butcher at Kagadi Market, is hoping to make the most out of the festive business
Rosemary Birungi busy at her stall at Kagadi Market
Meat is a common feature on plates during the festive season - and butchers know so