Relief as UNRA installs a ferry on River Semliki

NTOROKO – In a bid to ease transport and trade between Uganda and Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) is installing a ferry at Hayibale landing site on River Semliki in Rwebisengo, Ntoroko district that will connect the two countries.

The UNRA ferry Maintenance Manager, Joseph Wembabazi said, the ferry that will soon be operational will be in position to carry a load of not more than 35 tons and 100 passengers.

“Little works are remaining at Hayibale landing site and then we shall also work on Burasi landing site in DRC,” Wembabazi said.

Traders from Bunia in DRC have been using Lake Albert to travel to Ntoroko in Uganda as well as those from Uganda to Bunia which has been a long route.

While inspecting the ongoing works at Hayibale landing site, the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) overall Commander Operation Shujja, Maj. Gen. Kayanja Muhanga said, the ferry will create a multiplier effect in security and trade between the two counties.

“Once the ferry is operational, movement of personnel and materials to the theatre will be shortened,” Maj. Gen. Kayanja said.

The King of Mitego Kingdom,Omukama Rutahaba Ibanda, who led a delegation from DRC, explained difficulties his people face while coming to Uganda through Lake Albert to Ntoroko.

“The Hema of Congo and Batuku of Uganda are kinsmen and cattle keepers who interact on a daily basis. My people have been having difficulties traveling from Bunia crossing Lake Albert to Ntoroko, now that the ferry is here, we are going to abandon the longer and risky route to this one,” the Omukama Rutahaba said.

He commended the cooperation between the two presidents for enabling the two countries to cooperate and live in a peaceful coexistence.

The Chairperson LCI Hayibale village, Moses Bongaliya said, since the construction of the ferry started, the village people have been enjoying this development by selling their goods and enjoying the newly constructed road connecting Hayibale landing site to Bundibugyo tarmac road.

“My people are very happy with this development. The tarmac road has been upgraded and now the ferry, will shorten the distance to our relatives in Congo. We appreciate the government of Uganda for this development,” Bongaliya said.

The construction of a ferry on River Semliki comes at a time when UPDF together with the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) are hunting Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) terrorists in Virunga and Ituri impenetrable forests.

This operation has had a challenge of difficult terrain with steep hills, valleys, numerous rivers and poor roads prolonging lines of communication.

It is predicted that once the ferry becomes operational, communication will be shortened which will increase the trust to eliminate ADF from Eastern DRC.

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