MARITIME

Revamped Kisumu Port ready for operations - KPA

The port will handle both containerized and conventional cargo

In Summary
  • KPA managing director Daniel Manduku says the port can handle 50,000 TEUs or an equivalent of 200,000 metric tonnes
  • President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to commission the facility anytime with Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and Tanzania’s John Magufuli expected to attend
Transport CS James Macharia(in suite) with KPA managing director Daniel Manduku during an inspection of the Kisumu Port on Friday, September 13/Courtesy
Transport CS James Macharia(in suite) with KPA managing director Daniel Manduku during an inspection of the Kisumu Port on Friday, September 13/Courtesy

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has affirmed its readiness for operationalisation of revamped Kisumu Port, as government remains focused in reviving maritime activities at Lake Victoria.

KPA managing director Daniel Manduku yesterday said works have been completed and the facility is ready to start handling cargo, with a main focus on shipments to the hinterlands.

Kisumu Port has been refurbished at a cost of Sh700 million, Manduku noted, as opposed to media reports that it cost Sh3 billion.

Completed works include concreting of the port yard, construction of the quayside, repairs of the linkspan, repairs of the dry dock and rehabilitation of all buildings.

Quayside is an area along the banks of a water body while a linkspan is a type of drawbridge used mainly in the operation of moving vehicles on and off a vessel.

All roads within and the link roads to the port facility have also been repaired, Manduku said.

 “We are just waiting for the official opening ceremony. Anytime the visiting heads of state confirm availability. We are ready,” Manduku said.

Transport CS James Macharia and Manduku inspected the facility last Friday.

“The CS was very impressed with the amount, quality and speed of work done,” Manduku told the Star on phone.

According to Manduku, Kisumu port can handle 50,000 TEUs or an equivalent of  200,000 metric tonnes.

TEU stands for Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit which can be used to measure a ship’s cargo carrying capacity.

 “It (Kisumu Port) will handle all types of cargo,” Manduku said, which includes both containerized and conventional Cargo.

Feeder jetties and piers are also being put in place. Kisumu port has been equipped with among others; forklift trucks, mobile cranes and tractor-trailers.

“The revival of Mv uhuru is almost complete and the link span is ready to receive wagon ferries. At the moment, a complement of cargo handling and maintenance equipment has been deployed to back up operations at the lake port,” KPA chairman general (Rtd) Joseph Kibwana told port stakeholders in Nairobi last Wednesday, during a business luncheon.

The facility which has undergone an intensive seven month upgrade now paves way for operations of  wagon ferries and vessels, a game changer in lake transport and business activities in Kisumu and her environs.

“Kisumu Port is expected to open up the western Kenya market and further boost regional trade,” Manduku said, as he assured port stakeholders of other developments at the Port of Mombasa, Lamu Port and other small ports mainly in the Indian Ocean.

“Preparations are underway to construct Shimoni Port as a fishing port a move that will boost the sustainable exploitation of the blue economy,” Manduku said. Shimoni is in Kwale County.

At Kisumu, Kenya Railways Corporation engineers are working on a new rail link from Kenya Pipeline to Kenya Cereals Board, which is already linked to the port.

This is key for ferrying fuel from the Kenya Pipeline to the linkspan for loading. Other important development is the revival of dry-dock, a facility for ships maintenance which is nearing completion.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to commission the facility anytime soon, an event expected to be graced by his Uganda counterpart Yoweri Museveni and Tanzania’s John Magufuli in the spirit of East Africa Community (EAC) common market and trade.

On July 6, during his two-day private visit to Tanzania, Uhuru and Magufuli resolved to revamp ferry services on Lake Victoria.

The two heads of states noted that regular maritime travel between Kisumu, Mwanza, Bukoba and other ports on Africa's largest lake “will help create employment, enhance connectivity and spur related economic activities.”

Kisumu Port has been under utilized for over 20 years. Plans are underway to dredge the port area and a further 80-metre wide and 63-kilometre long canal between Kisumu and Mbita.

The port will be a game changer for cargo heading to the landlocked countries especially Uganda, which  remains  the predominant transit destination through the Port of Mombasa with a total transit traffic of 7.89 million tonnes in 2018.

This was up from 7.11 million tonnes in 2017, an increment of 776,148 tonnes.

Kisumu port is part of Lake Victoria’s port network which also includes Mwanza, Musoma, and Bukoba in Tanzania and Entebbe and Port Bell in Uganda.

In the 90’s, typical journey times were 13 hours between Port Bell and Kisumu, and 19 hours between Port Bell and Mwanza.