MOYO: The increasing volume of traffic via the Obongi-Sinyanya route is putting too much strain on the ferry and its attendant staff that there is need for a second ferry at Obongi, the area member of parliament Mr Kaps Hassan Fungaroo has said.
Mr Fungaroo made the appeal after listening to the experiences and plight of the skeletal staff manning the Obongi ferry.
There are four ferry operators left at Obongi after the fifth one perished in a boat accident last month.
The 2.2m Euros (about sh9.7b) ferry at Obongi was a fulfillment of President Yoweri Museveni’s 2006 campaign pledge.
It has four engines each having a 120 horse power and a carrying capacity for 150 passengers plus four trucks or eight station wagons at a time.
According to the April traffic report the Obongi ferry made between eight and twelve daily trips back and forth, totaling to 296 trips.
During those trips, the ferry carried 63,246 passengers, 42 buses, 936 Lorries and trucks, 2,240 cars and pickups, 2,714 motorcycles, 2,782 bicycles and 616 animals.
“We have a congested rout. The workload is heavy and there is no room for staff to operate in shifts,” Mr Samson Ngusi a navigation captain said.
The workload is increased by rising scale of humanitarian assistance to the refugees in Adjumani, Moyo, Yumbe and Arua.
The heavy duty cargo trucks especially prefer that rout to the Adjumani-Laropi-Moyo route which is hilly and too rugged.
Mr Fungaroo also called for decentralization of ferry service centres saying as the number of ferry stations increase it would be beneficial to open a service centre in West Nile.
Currently there is only one ferry service centre in the country stationed at Luwero district.
He said Obongi would be ready to host such a service centre to provide maintenance services for ferry operations in the region.
The West Nile region has three busy ferry docking stations including Panyimur, Obongi and Laropi while Rhino Camp is in pipeline.
Decentralizing ferry service centres would avert possibilities of ferries halting operations like it recently happened in Panyimur when the ferry was docked to stay idle due to fall in the water level.
Mr Ngusi said a similar scenario was narrowly avoided at Obongi because they managed to borrow an excavator from Luwero to remove the silt.
“When water levels recede, you dig out the sand to allow the ferry to land and when water levels go up you pour in murram,” he explained.
The government used shs 1.2 billion for the construction of Obongi and Sinyanya landing sites and for opening the road up to Adjumani town in 2012 when the ferry was introduced.