Flowering plants grow like magic from Lake Victoria onto a wooden boat, giving it a lush atmosphere that many visitors love.
The initial attraction becomes even more compelling when Ugandan tourists learn that the vegetation originates from an innovative recycling project that uses thousands of plastic bottles covered in dirt to stabilize the boat.
Former tour guide James Catiba The construction of the boat started in 2017 In response to the tons of plastic debris he saw in the lake after a heavy rain. He realized that the boat could serve as an example of a sustainable business on the shores of Lake Victoria: A floating restaurant and bar that can be separated to drift off for fun.
Many of those who come to relax here in Luzira, a lakeside suburb in Uganda’s capital Kampala, know nothing of the ship’s background. Katiba insists that she is first and foremost “conservation effort”one man’s attempt to protect one of Africa’s greatest lakes from degradation.
he Lake Victoria It is the second largest freshwater lake in the world and spans three countries. but, It suffers from debris from runoff and other pollution, sand mining, and lower water levels due in part to climate change.
Layers of plastic debris float near some beaches during the rainy season, a clear sign of pollution that worries fishing communities that rely heavily on the lake.
“The fact that we have a pollution problem as a country… I decided to design something out of the ordinary,” said Kattiba, looking at the lake skyline smeared with a green substance that indicated pollutants from a nearby brewery.
It began with asking fishermen at nearby landing sites to collect plastic bottles for a small fee. More than 10 tons of bottles were received in six months. The pieces are tied in fishing nets and smeared with hard soil, creating sturdy foundations on which to moor the boat which is also a perfect breeding ground for climbing tropical plants.
Today, the ship, which is being marketed as the floating island, can comfortably serve 100 visitors at a time, Kateeba said.
“This is the morning glory,” he said proudly, clutching a vibrant flowering vine one afternoon as he prepared to unwrap the ship for the delight of his customers. Elsewhere on the ship, a group of teens were dancing on TikTok. Upstairs, a carpenter was building a new wooden deck.
Jaro Matosevic, a visiting businessman from Greece, said he had “never seen a place like this” and praised the “relaxed” atmosphere off the ship while gobbling up fish and chips.
“This is a very good idea,” he said. “If you collect and use the bottles, great! … You’re not only cleaning up the environment, but you’re also offering something very unique and unique.”
A similar project launched on the shores of Kenya in 2018, where a small boat, known as the Flipflopi, is built entirely from recycled plastic that once littered beaches and sandy towns along the Indian Ocean.
In 2021, Flipflopi went on a trip across Lake Victoria “To raise awareness of pollution affecting the region’s most important freshwater ecosystem”according to the United Nations Environment Programme.
Katiba said he hopes his boat will be exemplary.
“I’m sure with a little bit of experience we get from this we should be able to encourage other people to design things,” he said. “Other ways, not necessarily of this kind… of trying to deal with plastic pollution in Lake Victoria.”
(with information from the AP)
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