Kisumu will have the new shipyard operational soon as part of the ongoing rehabilitation and expansion of the important lake transport facility after an impromptu visit of the facility by President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday. MV Uhuru II under construction at the Kisumu Shipyard; the first ship to be locally built in the last 70 years. Kisumu Port is one of the ports on Lake Victoria that offer organized shipping services on the Lake.
According to KDF, restoration of Kisumu Port into a modern regional lake transport hub is to improve its capability of handling large volumes of cargo from Kenya into the East African economic hub as the port focuses on cargo handling. The catchment area of Lake Victoria, which encompasses parts of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, has a population of around 35 million and a GDP of some USD 30 billion.
General Robert Kibochi, Chief of the Defence Forces expressed satisfaction with the progress made in reviving the yard with concentration on the dry dock area, gate and main access site, administration block and parking area construction.
According to Kenya Ports Authority, since the rehabilitation of the port, volumes of cargo handled at the port increased by tenfold. Before the rehabilitation of the facility, the volume of exports was a paltry 285 metric tons per month but has now shot up to 4,600 metric tons per month.
Ship building is basically an assembly industry. The Kisumu Shipyard functions as a platform on which ships are secured and winched out of water into a working area for construction, repair, refitting and maintenance whereas a shipyard is a place where ships are built. The time taken to cover the distance from Kisumu to ports in Uganda and Tanzania has reduced by almost half.
Damen Shipyards, a Dutch firm that has been supplying Kenya’s navy with vessels, is constructing MV Uhuru II but KSL intends to use the project as a starting point for full reliance on locals. The contractor is tasked with dredging of the port and piers along the lake.