$50m Kalangala infrastructure project takes off

Saturday July 20 2013

A ferry on Lake Victoria. The multi million-dollar Kalangala infrastructure project in Uganda has started, clearing the way for the upgrading of roads, marine transport, power and water supply in Kalangala region. Photo/FILE

A ferry on Lake Victoria. The multi million-dollar Kalangala infrastructure project in Uganda has started, clearing the way for the upgrading of roads, marine transport, power and water supply in Kalangala region. Photo/FILE Nation Media Group

By ISAAC KHISA The EastAfrican

The multi million-dollar Kalangala infrastructure project in Uganda has started, clearing the way for the upgrading of roads, marine transport, power and water supply in Kalangala region.

Kalangala Infrastructure Services (KIS), the private firm running the $50 million project in a joint venture with the government, broke the ground for road works, water and power generation to Bugala Island.

Bugala is the largest of the 84 islands which form Ssese Islands in the northwestern part of Lake Victoria, and has a population of 60,000.

KIS managing director John Opiro said the four projects — clean water, road, ferry and electricity — should be complete by mid next year.

“We already have our first ferry (MV Pearl) operating between Bukakata and Luku, and the second one is under construction. Two of the seven landing sites are already connected to the water system. Our target is to commission all the components in June 2014,” Mr Opiro said during the ground-breaking ceremony for upgrading the island’s main road last week.

He said KIS plans to build two double-hulled commercial ferries, each with a carrying capacity of 18 vehicles and 109 seated passengers, a 1.6 MW hybrid solar and thermal power plant, a water supply system, and upgrade the existing 66 kilometre main island road on Bugala island to a Class B gravel road.

KIS is a subsidiary of InfraCo Ltd, which is based in the UK. The project will be financed through equity and debt from InfraCo, Nedbank from South Africa, Uganda Development Corporation and Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund.

The United States Agency for International Development, UK’s Department for International Development, and Guarant Company will also finance the project.

Currently, Kalangala Town Council supplies only 485KW of thermal power to Bugala.

Whereas road and ferry services will be offered to the users for free for 15 years, water and electricity users will have to pay monthly for services.

The water and power tariffs will be regulated by the Directorate of Water Resources and the Electricity Regulatory Authority respectively.

Once complete, the four projects are expected to improve connectivity and accessibility between the mainland and the island, reduce the cost of doing business, and improve the lives of residents.

“There is a lot of disposable income on the island from fishing and the oil palm farmers. By providing backbone infrastructure, we can improve their standard of living and attract others to the island,” Opiro said in January.

Uganda’s State Minister for Works and Transport John Byabagambi said the new infrastructural developments in Bugala Island would boost marketing of agricultural products, especially those involved in palm oil growing.

Over 1,700 small-holder farmers grow palm oil in Bugala Island on the 3,500 hectares of land, according to Kalangala Oil Palm Growers Trust, whereas the regional edible oil and soap manufacturer Bidco grows on 6,500 hectares of land.

Though KIS entered into partnership with the Ugandan government in 2005 to provide the proposed infrastructural services, the project has taken long to be implemented due to limited funds and the bureaucracy involved in getting necessary legal approvals from various government agencies.

Last December, KIS acquired the funds for implementation of the project.

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