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Tour operators, travelers decry slow ferry services at Kazinga Channel Bridge

The Ishaka Katungura road

Kasese, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Tour operators and travellers have complained about the delays caused by the ferry at Katunguru Bridge. In June, Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) announced the temporary closure of Kazinga Channel Bridge at Katungura along the Kasese-Katunguru-Ishaka Road for emergency rehabilitation.

UNRA provided free ferry services to help those crossing the channel. However, travellers using the route have decried delays caused by the ferry and want UNRA to provide more ferries to ease traffic delays.

Bashir Ibrahim, a tour guide at the Queen Elizabeth conservation area, says that it takes between 40 minutes to one and half hours for the ferry to make a single trip. He says the delays are likely to discourage tourists who have scheduled travel time.

Haruna Katumba, another tour operator wants UNRA to introduce a second ferry to ease on the time travellers have to wait on one side of the channel.  Katumba also wants tour vehicles to be given priority while crossing.

Baker Adrian, a tourist from Texas in the USA, said one ferry making a back and forth journey has proved to be inefficient creating lots of delays.

However, both the Kasese and Rubirizi Resident District Commissioners, say they expect limited traffic flow across the two districts due to inter-district travel restrictions. Harriet Nakamya, the Rubirizi RDC says no person from her district will be allowed on the ferry without authorization from local leaders.

Kasese RDC Lt. Joe Walusimbi says they will intensify security patrols to ensure people do not take advantage of the ferry to violet in the inter-district travel restrictions.

Solomon Ahimbisibwe, the project engineer, says the bridge is likely to take around Shillings 898 million expected to be completed in the next three months. He says they created diversion routes for heavy loads and those who do not want to be inconvenienced.

In 2019, traffic on the same route was diverted for nearly three weeks following damage on the bridge.   The Katunguru Bridge was constructed in 1954 and first repaired in 1988. The 32 kilometre Kazinga Channel that links Lake Edward and George is a dominant feature of Queen Elizabeth National Park.  Several taxis, buses and heavy trucks cross the bridge daily from Western and Southwestern Uganda to DR Congo and Rwanda.

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