• Revival of the Kisumu Port to promote local and regional trade, create employment, support commercial, agriculture and industrial development.
• Operations at the Kisumu Port use manual labour to transfer cargo stored in the warehouse to the waiting vessels.
The Kenya Ports Authority on Sunday began transporting equipment to the Kisumu Port ahead of the launch next month.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to commission the facility that has been idle for several years. The national government has invested Sh3 billion for the port's revival.
KPA managing director Daniel Manduku yesterday told the Star that they have started taking equipment that includes forklift trucks, mobile cranes and tractor-trailers to Kisumu.
“Currently, manual labour is used at the port to transfer cargo stored in the warehouse to vessels. Therefore, we need 15-tonne mobile cranes, forklifts trucks and tractor-trailers to support cargo handling,” Manduku said.
Opposition chief Raila Odinga, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, PS Esther Koimett, Manduku and other top government officials on Saturday inspected the progress of the rehabilitation works.
Their visit comes three weeks after President Kenyatta toured the facility on July 7 after returning from visiting Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli.
On June 14, Uhuru and Raila made an impromptu tour of the port to check the progress of construction work.
Manduku said the President is keen to revive the port because it will promote local and regional trade, create employment, support commercial, agriculture and industrial development around the lake region.
“The project will promote the lake shipping industry and its auxiliary services. It will promote local and regional trade to benefit the East African Community,” the MD said.
The key rehabilitation works being undertaken by the government include paving the open areas, putting efficient drainage and improving access roads for trucks, tractors, trailers and forklift trucks.
The Kisumu Port, which has three berths, has only one warehouse.
The KPA boss said the warehouse is enough to handle all arriving cargo because the standard gauge railway freight services to Kisumu have not begun.
“Currently, there is no SGR connection to Kisumu, therefore, the existing warehouse would be enough for the next 10 years. After that, a second warehouse would be builty behind the existing one, doubling the storage facility,” Manduku said.
The infrastructure at the port is old and will need to be maintained, he said.
Among the proposed maintenance works include; dredging to achieve the desired depth of six metres along berths, desired depth of 8 metres along the access channel and removal of wreck interfering with shipping and navigation aids.
To support the maritime industry on Lake Victoria, Manduku said, it is also important for the shipyard at the port to remain operational.
“KPA is better positioned to provide and maintain the shipbuilding and repairing yard infrastructure. Operations at the shipyard can, however, be done by private companies, directly contacted by shipowners."
Edited by R.Wamochie