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MV Pamba, a vessel that will be key to moving bulk cargo on Lake Victoria is ready to sail.

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The works and transport minister, Gen. Katumba Wamala, said the MV Pamba had a crew ready to operate the vessel. 

“What we are waiting for is the insurance which is being finalized. The test run will be done with some cargo for it to start operations,” Wamala told New Vision

MV Pamba, which went out of business 16 years ago after being involved in an accident, has been equipped with modern marine technology ahead of the vessel’s return to plying different routes on Lake Victoria. 

Moses Muwonge, the manager of Mango Tree Group, which is repairing the ship, said they replaced the old engines with modern ones as well as generators. 

“We bought Wechi engines, which have the most modern technology and are easy to maintain. Their contraction is too low compared to the old engines, which were running Pamba,” Muwonge said. 

He added that they had brought in new generators that consume less fuel and are also easy to maintain. 

“Overall, we changed the whole communication and navigation system,” Muwonge said. 

He said MV Pamba would now require fewer crew members. 

“We have fitted cameras in the engine cabin and generator room, among many other places. Everything can be monitored from the cockpit on the screen by one person,” Muwonge said. 

He added that they had also installed fire detectors on the vessel. 

The chief engineer said overall works were now at 85% with a few touches remaining. 

“Once we fit the radars bearings and shafts, the vessel will be good to go. We are also finalising with the painting,” Muwonge said. 

MV Pamba broke down over 15 years ago and the Government contracted Mango Tree Group to repair it. 

Mango Tree will operate the vessel until they recover all the resources they invested in the venture. 

The ship is expected to carry goods between Port Bell, Mwanza, and Kisumu. 

At one go, MV Pamba can carry 22 wagons (22 40ft containers or 44 20ft containers). 

However, Muwonge said there is a need to dredge Port Bell as so much contamination has made the area shallow. 

“Once the Government gives us a go-ahead, we shall carry out dredging to enable the vessels to dock well.” 

He also appealed to the Government to repair the country’s only tugboat. 

Internet sources define a tugboat as a marine vessel that manoeuvres other vessels by pushing or pulling them, with direct contact or a tow line. 

“A tug boat works the same way a breakdown works on vehicles. Imagine we don’t have a tugboat in Uganda. So what will happen if a vessel gets a problem in the middle of the lake?” Muwonge said. 

“We need to overhaul the available tugboat to meet the international standards.” 

Speaking after touring the vessel recently, works state minister Joy Kabatsi said she had been assured that MV Pamba will be back on the water by next month. 

“I prefer dealing with private investors because when they are given work, you get results in time. The Government released sh117b funded by the World Bank to rehabilitate MV Kabalega, but the work was not done well,” Kabatsi said. 

MV Pamba and MV Kawa vessels collided in 2005, a few metres away from Port Bell. MV Pamba has been grounded at Port-Bell since the accident.

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