Anger and disappointment are spreading among travelers to and from the Ssese Islands but also the business owners, in particular those offering accommodation services to visitors that the main government owned ferry MV Kalangala continues to be out of service after a brief period of operations earlier this year.
It also appears that a second, privately operated ferry, Earth Wise, is also not in operation for reasons not revealed, though the regular rumor mill was swift in making up stories of collusion and opposition, business jealousy and wrangles over the routes.
The local media ran a short story on the issue when the allegations surfaced and Ministry of Works and Transport staff denied any such conflicts or collisions, saying: ‘Allegations had started coming up that some ministry officials were deliberately delaying the repair of MV Kalangala so as to favour Earth Wise with whom they had struck a deal’the official was quoted but refused to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the press, said.
Another staff however denied claims that the ministry stopped Earth Wise from operating the Entebbe-Kalangala routes, saying they failed because of the high operational costs.
Island residents, including hotel, resort and restaurant owners, last week staged a demonstration at Kalangala District headquarters protesting the delay to repair the vessel. Without the ferries from either Entebbe or Port Bell there are two water transport alternatives for passengers; either to travel to Bukakata, Masaka District by road and then board the MV Pearl ferry that sails to Kalangala daily or to use lake boats, which safety has often been critizied and which in stormy weather have the notorious reputation of being unsafe while overcharging.