BULIISA. The Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) has flagged off a new ferry plying the Wanseko Landing Site in Buliisa District to the famous Panyimur Market in Nebbi District route as the activity in the series to run until December to mark 10 years since inception.
The Shs8.1b MV Albert Nile One ferry, officials said last Friday, will reduce travel time along the 22km route to approximately one hour and 20 minutes from the previous two hours and 40 minutes by the old ferry which was decommissioned last year.
The Buliisa District chairman, Mr Simon Kinene, said the launch of the new ferry is “timely and welcome” in light of the agony residents had endured since the last ferry was endured, and forced to revert to road transport.
The ferry is also major link for nearby towns such as Hoima, Kigorobya, Masindi, Biiso, Buliisa and Wanseko in Bunyoro, and Panyimur, Dei, Pakwach, Nebbi, Paidha and Arua in West Nile.
Works and Transport minister Monica Azuba, who officiated the new ferry services, said “it was significant milestone” and “true to government’s promise of service delivery.”
Ms Azuba also launched UNRA’s 10 years’ anniversary celebrations under the theme ‘Miles of Smiles’.
“With the establishment of UNRA, government has made tremendous development in the road sub-sector. UNRA has been at the centre of modernising our road infrastructure to world class. This is evident in the quality of roads across the country, quality of ferry services through modern ferries with enhanced features that promote dignity of Ugandans,” Ms Azuba said.
She revealed that government will “continue to extend ferry services across the country” and that in the new financial year, UNRA will complete construction of a modern ferry connecting Namayingo to Sigulu Islands in Busoga Sub-region to be followed by the Bukungu-Kagwara-Kaberamaido (BKK) connecting the Teso and Busoga sub-regions on Lake Kyoga.
The new ferry, Ms Azuba said, coincides with the yet to start construction works of the 111km Hoima-Butiaba-Wanseko road in the area: among the 600kilometres of roads in mid-western, northern and southern parts of Uganda that have been earmarked for tarmacking by 2019. This is to facilitate different activities by the oil companies — Total E&P, Cnooc and Tullow — to meet government’s target of starting commercial production towards end of 2020. China’s Exim Bank is financing construction of the 600km network of roads with a credit line up to $531m (Shs2 trillion).
“With more roads that are under development within the region, construction of Hoima Airport and set up of the Oil Refinery, this ferry crossing will see increased traffic,” she said.
UNRA’s mandate is to develop and maintain the national road network, including provision of ferry services linking sections of the national roads that are separated by water bodies.
The UNRA executive director, Ms Allen Kagina, said while the roads body’s 10th anniversary “is an important event” to seize its true significance, it should be recognised at two levels: institutionally and wholly in its mandate.
Besides improving the national road network, UNRA last month flagged off the 51km Kampala-Entebbe expressway, the first of its kind in the country to be fully opened in September. This is to be followed by others like the Kampala-Jinja Expressway (77km)-a 8-4 lane super highway, whose designs have been completed and procurement for a contractor is ongoing. Others include the Kampala-Mpigi Expressway (32km)-a 4 lane super highway, whose designs have been completed as well the Kampala Bombo Expressway (50km) whose designs are set to be completed.