Kisumu rising: Port, rail and roads changing region’s fortunes

Kisumu rising: Port, rail and roads changing region’s fortunes

•President Uhuru’s administration has been keen on tapping the huge potential in the country’s blue economy, mainly in the Indian Ocean and Lake Victoria.

•The government has refurbished the Kisumu Port and revived ship-building at the dry dock.

Tonnes of steel lie on the ground at the Kisumu Shipyard where the construction of Kenya’s first home-built commercial vessel is ongoing.

Engineers, welders, and other experts brave the scorching sun as they put together a 1,800 tonnes capacity vessel, christened MV Uhuru II, currently at 60 per cent complete.

It is the first of its kind to be built at the shipyard whose dry dock was constructed in 1901 and had not been put into full use in post-independence due to lack of expertise.

“When our colonizers left, there was no activity since there were no skills passed to locals,” Kenya Shipyard Limited (KSL) deputy managing director Peter Muthungu explains.

The Sh2.4 billion vessel is being built by KSL, the KDF, in partnership with Dutch firm-Damen shipyards.

It is expected to be ready for sailing by April this year. There are orders to build at least three vessels at the shipyard while Uganda is constructing another two; both are expected to be ready this year.

Berthed about 200 meters away is the over 50-years old MV Uhuru I, awaiting loading of cargo for shipment to Uganda.

It was refurbished in 2019 by Kenya Railways and Kenya Defence Forces, after being grounded for 15 years.

To tap into the petroleum products transportation business, Kenya Railways constructed a new 1.8 km railway line to the Kenya Pipeline Corporation depot in Kisumu.According to Kenya Railways, the vessel can make 10 round trips in a month between Kisumu Port and Port Bell in Uganda with the capacity to carry 22 tank wagons bringing a total of 1,100,000 litres.To date, the ship has made 50 voyages carrying a total of 59,392.63 tonnes.The Sh3 billion refurbished Kisumu Port reopened by President Uhuru Kenyatta in June last year is slowly picking in terms of volumes, as manufacturers and traders embrace lake transport again, after decades of dormancy in the Lake Victoria transport network.Lake transport has cut transport costs between Kisumu and Uganda by up to 30 per cent, according to Kenya Railways which is operating MV Uhuru.The planned increase in the number of vessels now means a higher maritime capacity in the lake, which has a catchment area covering 193,000 square kilometres in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, […]

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