Uganda has a number of lakes which can be used for regional and internal water transport. Lake Victoria which shared with Kenya and Tanzania and Lake Albert shared with Democratic Republic of Congo can be used for regional transport in addition to internal transport. The other lakes and rivers of Uganda are only be used for internal transport.
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. The maximum capacity of each wagon ferry is 880 tonnes.
There are a number of motorised local boats on all lakes of Uganda which local people use to move from place to place.
The Government of Uganda fully understands the importance of water transport as an essential component of the National Road network 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.
20 Year Water Master Plan
In addition the government has already carried out studies to assess how to create an integrated road, rail and water transport. The recommendations in the study report are summed up into a 20-year Water Transport master plan with a capital investment of $484 million. However, the funds to implement the plan have not been mobilised.
Means used in the water system
The means used in the water system include the following components:
Wagon ferry services on Lake Victoria.
Short–Distance road vehicle ferries acting as ‘road bridges;
Informal sector operations by individually owned canoes.
The lakes have a number of land sites which do not have basic infrastructure like public toilets, medical services, shops and restaurants and accommodation . The landing sites will develop faster if the basic infrastructure are put in place by government.
Uses of internal water transport
The internal water transport has the following uses:
It provides low cost access to the islands
Remote shorelines on lakes can be easily reached
It connects villages along the banks of rivers which cannot be crossed by road or on foot.