MV Vanessa, Nathalie Resume Operations on Kalangala- Entebbe Water Way
As Uganda tries to pull itself out of the cacoon caused by the COVID-19 / Coronavirus pandemic, two private vessels, MV Vanessa and Nathalie, that had grounded their operations for close 3 months have resumed operations from Entebbe to Kalangala
Upon easing the restrictions by President Museveni in his 2 previous state of the nation addresses in regards to Coronavirus, MV Nathalie made its first trip on Friday June 24th setting off 4 pm from Entebbe to Kalangala with 17 passengers. All passengers aboard the travellers were directed to arrive at least two hours before departure to allow enough time for screening and other anti-COVID-19 measures.
Donna Ayebare, the spokesperson Nyanza Evergreen Waterways, said that for now the vessels will have to operate at half capacity for passengers to observe social distancing. Both vessels can carry 54 passengers but are now required to carry a maximum of 27 people, who must all wear masks and also sanitise before boarding the high-tech yacht.
on the first day of operations, only passengers who registered a temperature below 38degrees Celsius where allowed on board and these also observed social distancing while on the vessel in order to avoid any possibilities of contracting this fatl pandemic. Due to the limitations on the number of passengers that are allowed to be on the marine vessel at any one time, the crossing fares have been increased and now passengers are paying 35,000 Shillings for a single trip to Kalangala and 70,000 Shillings for a return journey during the week. The vessel also charges 45,000 Shillings for a one-way ticket and 85,000 Shillings for a return journey on weekends.
in regards to the increment in the boat fares, Augustine Kibaya, the Operations Manager for both vessels, says it costs about 2.2 million Shillings for each vessel to make a return journey to Entebbe hence requiring them to increase the fares so as to meet the operating costs of vessel.
Aboard the vessel on its maiden voyage to Kalangala post the COVID-19 lockdown were the Kalangala Deputy Resident District Commissioner Abel Bakunda and David Omongot, the District Animal Husbandry Officer, who expressed their excitement since now they can ply the Entebbe-Kalangala route within an hour and 15 minutes instead of the Kampala-Masaka-Kalangala route which takes about 6 hours.
However, Omongot called for the resumption of operations for MV Kalangala which charges the least for the Entebbe-Kalangala route.
The vessel is the only alternative since MV Kalangala is yet to resume operations. This is because the high Lake Victoria levels affected the ship’s docking piers in Entebbe and Kalangala.
Ayeare also explains that the vessel will make only one trip daily until the demand increases. MV Nathalie will now be plying the Entebbe-Kalangala route for one month while MV Vanessa will be on standby to ply routes requested by clients such as companies, among others.