Kenya Brings Lakeside Port Back to Life

Kenya PSCU / Kenya Railways

Published Jun 1, 2021 10:28 PM by The Maritime Executive

Kenya’s determination to build a multimodal transport system to serve the east Africa region has been boosted by the launch of the Kisumu port that was refurbished at a cost of $30 million.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said the port will facilitate the growth of economies in the region because it provides a holistic transport network for goods along the northern corridor from the port of Mombasa to countries like Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, northern Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The revival of the port also involved the revamping of MV Uhuru, a wagon ferry, and the Kisumu Kenya Shipyard Limited, a state agency that will repair, refurbish and rehabilitate ships for use in Lake Victoria. The yard is also expected to embark on building another vessel, MV Uhuru 2, which will be used to ferry petroleum and petroleum products and other goods to neighboring countries. The port has also been equipped with forklift trucks, mobile cranes and tractor-trailers ready for imports and exports.

Also part of the newly commissioned facilities is a $4.3 million marine school that will train Kenyans and other East Africa nationals on the management of vessels and other marine activities.

“The revival of this port was informed by the need to revamp the economies of the East Africa region and beyond,” said President Uhuru.

Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania reckon that reviving the neglected and underdeveloped Lake Victoria transport infrastructure has the potential to generate $60 billion worth of trade annually. At present, it only generates $6 billion for the three countries combined.

The revival of the port in Lake Victoria creates a multimodal system involving road, rail and water. It will see goods entering the East Africa region through the port of Mombasa, transported via the standard gauge railway to Naivasha, and carried onwards to Kisumu through the rehabilitated meter gauge railway. Fuel tankers and cargo vessels will then ferry the goods to Uganda and northern Tanzania - countries that share the Lake Victoria shoreline - and can be transported onwards via road and train to other countries in the region.

The Lake Victoria port network also includes Mwanza, Musoma, and Bukoba in Tanzania and Entebbe and Port Bell in Uganda.

As part of the Kisumu port refurbishment, Kenya has invested $17 million to build the Kisumu oil jetty to facilitate easy transportation of petroleum products across the region and remove trucks from the road. Uganda has also contracted Mahathi Infra Uganda Ltd, a consortium of private investors, to build a $270 million liquid bulk jetty and accompanying infrastructure on its side.

“The revival of Kisumu port will improve Kenya's social and commercial relations with the neighboring countries and reposition Kisumu as Kenya’s frontier for regional trade and logistics,” said President Uhuru.

He added that with an international airport, a pier and a railway station, Kisumu will actualize the vision of deeper integration within the East African Community trading bloc.