Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) has temporarily closed the Kazinga Channel Bridge at Katunguru from June to September 2021. During this period of time, a ferry will be introduced to operate as an alternative means of transport so as to support light vehicles which would include; pickups, saloon cars, and minivans up to a number of six with passengers not exceeding 50 per crossing.
Why is the Kazinga Channel Bridge?
The Kazinga Channel Bridge is located at Katunguru which is the biggest town in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The town is located on the side of the bridge while coming from Kasese heading to Kichwamba. The bridge in terms of tourism connects the Kyambura Gorge which is famed for the chimpanzee tracking with the Mweya area which is famed for the game drives and boat trip.
The ferry however, will work as a temporary fix for tourists, other motorists and passengers connecting to the different sides of the park although heavy trucks like buses and trailers that carry heavy loads are the most affected and hence, they will have to use the alternative routes. People will now have a direct contact with the water from both sides of the channel while having a closer look at activities done there.
What alternative routes have been set up?
The heavy vehicles will be diverted to alternative routes which include;
Kampala to Fort Portal to Kasese – this route has not been affected because there is no need to cross the bridge.
From Mbarara to Kasese, originally you would have to cross the bridge however, with the temporary closure of the bridge, the routing will be as follows; Mbarara to Ibanda, to Kamwenge, then Fort Portal and to Kasese.
Mpondwe to Kabale, originally you would cross the bridge to Ishaka and then proceed to Ntungamo then Kabale however, the route will be as follows; Mpondwe to Kasese, then Kasese to Fort Portal, Fort Portal to Kamwenge, then Kamwenge to Ibanda, Ibanda to Mbarara, Mbarara to Ishaka and then connect to Ntungamo and finally to Kabale.
It is important that you put the above changes into consideration and plan better for travel most especially because the travel time has been increased with an increase in the number of hours on the road.
What is the impact of the bridge’s closure on tourism?
In principle, there is no major difference with regards to tourism and visiting of the major tourist sites because all tourist vehicles fall into the light vehicles permitted on the ferry with the exception of the overland trucks which are rare in Uganda’s protected areas.
There is a positive with this experience because now, the tourists will have the luxury of enjoying another form of transportation (the ferry) which was not included in their usual travel plans. Also a good way of relaxing on the water after some hours in the car.