Kabale, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Bwama Island Primary School in Kitumab sub-county in Kabale District has received a motorboat worth Shillings 115 million to improve for learners, thanks to Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).
The URA Commissioner General, John Rujoki Musinguzi handed over the boat to the school headteacher, Robert Kakyoma in a scientific held at Bunyonyi Safaris Resort on the shores of Lake Bunyonyi on Friday afternoon.
Musinguzi explained that the donation is part of the initiative by URA’s Corporate Service Department, which started in 2019 following media reports in 2017 indicating how pupils were struggling to access education services by crossing the lake using canoes.
He explained that URA mobilized and raised funds to buy a motorboat and 70 life jackets to donate to the school 2020 to ease the pupil’s burden.
Nelson Nshangabasheija, the Kabale District LC 5 Chairman and school headteacher, Robert Kakyoma, say that the motorboat donation to the school is a very big relief because learners have been suffering to cross the water.
They say that the Church of Uganda founded school, which was taken over by the government in 1969 had a total enrollment of 312 pupils before the lockdown comprising, 142 boys and 170 girls.
This brings to three, the number of boats donated to the school. The school had earlier on received two other boats from Entutsi Resort and Retreat Center and Nickys Care foundation, both Community-based organizations operating in Kabale district.
They say that before pupils would use Iod boats that had been put on the island to transport patients suffering from leprosy. But even the Iod boats became old, which forced parents to resort to giving their children manual canoes, which are risky.
Kakyoma has expressed concern about the capacity of the school to fuel the boats. According to Kakyoma, the school had started a plan of expanding the school garden by planting Irish potatoes and vegetables as well as establishing a handicraft shop to raise funds to fuel the boats.
He, however, says that the plan hit a snag because of the COVID-19 lockdown.
Speaking at the same event, David Bahati, Minister of State for Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives said that the government is doing what it can to address the transport challenges for other communities surrounding Lake Bunyonyi.
Bahati says that the construction of two ferry services at the lake is still in the pipeline. He also says that the government has approved USD 98 million equivalent to Shillings 314billion to tarmac 8.4 Kilometre Kabale-Lake Bunyonyi road.
Bahati says that tarmacking is most likely to begin in January 2022 because the government has already issued adverts calling for bids from contractors. He also says that the government has procured a speed motorboat to be deployed at Lake Bunyonyi in the coming years.
The transport challenge has not only affected pupils but even other members of the community neighbouring Lake Bunyonyi. In July this year, Nafutali
Kizabona, a catechist at Kayanga Catholic Church in Kabale Diocese drowned in the Lake.
Kizabona was sailing alone when the canoe was blown by the wind and capsized. In March 2021, Amon Turyatemba, a student of Nyabikoni secondary school drowned in Lake Bunyonyi while on tour. In August 2020, five residents of Karambo village in Muko sub-county in Rubanda district drowned in the same lake. On August 11th, 2020, three people including John Bosco
Tumuheki, Felix Arineitwe, and Fricano Turyahikayo, all residents of Katetenkora village in Nyamiryango Parish, Butanda Sub County in Kabale district drowned when their canoe capsized in the same lake.
In June 2020, two people from Muko sub-county in Rubanda district drowned in the same lake while travelling in a canoe. In December 2018, Uganda Police also donated 150 life jackets to pupils of Kyabahinga, Bufuka and Kifuka primary schools.
In March 2015, Yorokam Byomuhangi, a Catechist at St. Phillips Church of Uganda Parish Bugongi in the Diocese of Kigezi drowned while heading from his home Kitooma in Rubaya sub-county, Kabale district to preside over a Sunday service at his church.
During the 2015 presidential campaigns, President Yoweri Museveni pledged to provide a ferry to ease transport across the lake. However, to date, the pledge is still pending. The only intervention has been the establishment of a marine detachment to help in rescuing those who have drowned.
Located in Kabale and Rubanda district, the 900-meter deep lake is the second deepest in Africa and one of the top tourism revenue earners for Uganda.