Buvuma , Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Travelers to Buvuma Island have to part with more money following a hike in the boat fares. Boat operators decided to hike their failure because of the suspension of ferry services from Kiyindi landing site in Buikwe District to Kirongo landing site in Buvuma District.
Uganda National Roads Authority-UNRA suspended ferry services until November 24th to repair the ferry, which had developed some defect. As a result, boat operators have taken advantage of the absence of the ferry to make more money.
On a usual day small boats charge Shillings 3, 000 per passenger without goods but have now increased the fare to Shillings 5, 000. Passengers with heavy luggage or a bunch of banana have been paying between Shillings 5, 000 to 7, 000 but it has no increased to between Shillings 7, 000 to 12, 000.
Teddy Nakato, a dealer in sweet plantain says she was forced to offload the bananas from two trucks and transport it using small boats. Nakato expresses distress for hiring trucks, which are now stranded at the island.
This means she will have to pay the truck owner for extra days they will have to spend at the island without working. She pays about Shillings 250, 000 for three days.
James Nambula, a trader at Kirongo landing site notes that boat owners take advantage whenever the ferry is suspended to hike their fares knowing that people have no option other than using boats. He appeals to UNRA to always monitor the condition of the ferry and communicate in time to allow people to prepare for the situation.
Ayubu Onale, a boat owner at Kirongo says the number of passengers increases whenever the ferry breakdowns yet they lack enough requirements such as life jackets, which prompts them to hike prices so as to hire jacket and engines to ensure safe transportation of people and their properties.
“We incur much costs to buy life jackets, our appeal to the government is to help use offer to us life jackets at an affordable price so that we offer services at reduced prices to our people.”
Allan Ssempebwa, the UNRA Public and Media Relations manager calls for calm. “As the authority we must ensure security for our people, and therefore we call upon them to remain calm as we ensure servicing and maintaining the ferry. We are also committed to completing a new ferry that shall be plying that same route starting from February next year,” Ssempebwa said.
This is the second time ferry services to Buvuma are being suspended this year. The first incident happened in February this year.