Uganda is a landlocked east African country, however, the country is highly blessed with a number of water bodies, hosting the hugest part of the Africa’s largest fresh water Lake Victoria and hosting the source of the world’s longest River Nile.
Uganda being a smaller country covering an area of 241,559sqkm, an area of over 40,000sqkm is covered by water bodies and which some are vital as far as water transport is concerned.
The major lakes which are used for water transport include; Lake Victoria, Lake Albert, Lake Gorge, Lake Edward, Lake Kyoga, Lake Bunyonyi and many other. As well with various rivers like river Nile and River Ssezibwa bigger enough to use boats to crossing to other sides.
Water transport can connect to various islands and corners within the country as well to neighboring countries that connect on with some of the water bodies.
These are Lake Albert connecting Uganda and DRC, Lake Victoria connecting Uganda to Kenya and Tanzania and Lake Gorge that connect with Democratic Republic of Congo can be used for regional transport in addition to other transport means in the country.
Means of Transports on water in Uganda
Wagon ferry services
Passenger ferries used to cross to other inlands on lakes and rivers bridges
Individually owned boats used for transport and fishing
Speed boats mainly used by security organs and holiday makers
Boat cruising for adventures in parks
Rift Valley Railways which has the concession to operate Uganda Railways operates 3 wagon ferries on Lake Victoria from Port Bell and Jinja in Uganda to Kisumu in Kenya and Mwanza in Tanzania. Tanzania this 2021 promised to revamp the rail connection from Mwanza to Port Bell in Uganda, this is one great achievement to boost inter regional water transport and trade between countries.
The Uganda National Roads Authorities (UNRA) has considered that water transport is one way of connecting to other roads. The authority has worked and put in place a number of inland passenger ferries. Passengers ferries used in Uganda are operated by UNRA and are common means of water transport used to connect to various inland destinations, they’re used on Lake Victoria, River Nile, Lake Kyoga, Lake Edward, Lake Albert and River Sezibwa.
The government is working hard to ensure that transport network is operating and this is witnessed through the provision of “road bridges” between individual road systems severed by water. The government is in the process of replacing the aging ferries which act as road bridges.
Local wooden boats
This is the most common way of using water transport in the country, motorized local boats on all lakes of Uganda are fully operated by individuals on private basis. Various lakes are composed of so many islands which are only connected to by these local motorized boats. Though 98% of the people living or connecting to various islands use these local wooden motorized boats to sail and a greatest number of fishermen in the country as well use motorized boats.
These are designed for holiday makers who just wish to have a leisure time on waters. There are various number of moving vessels (MV) that are designed to give that amazing moment to holiday makers. These are mainly done on Lake Victoria and other water bodies in various National Parks in Uganda which are used for wildlife boat cruise/ rides.
Water transport is still over sighting a number of challenges, firstly lakes are composed of various inlands which are heavily populated with poor or not health, sanitation and education and other economic infrastructures with poor housing system. These inlands have for landing sites which are always washed away by water volumes and poor networking water transport connecting to various islands.