- The new 1,800-tonne MV Uhuru II wagon ferry is the first ever locally manufactured ship by Kenya Shipyards Limited working with Dutch partner Damen Shipyards.
- President Uhuru Kenyatta oversaw the floating of the ship which is nearing completion as he officially commissioned the Kisumu Shipyard.
Kenya has joined the league of shipbuilding nations after the locally assembled MV Uhuru II ship floated on Lake Victoria.
The new 1,800-tonne MV Uhuru II wagon ferry is the first ever locally manufactured ship by Kenya Shipyards Limited working with Dutch partner Damen Shipyards.
The Sh2.4 billion ship, set to be launched anytime before the end of the year, has positioned Kenya as a regional shipbuilding hub and unlocking Kenya's immense blue economy potential.
President Uhuru Kenyatta oversaw the floating of the ship, which is nearing completion, as he officially commissioned the Kisumu Shipyard.
Uhuru said this will encourage the growth of primary and ancillary manufacturing industries.
The President said transport and safety in Lake Victoria will be enhanced with the shipyard in place in Kisumu at the same time boost fishing and tourism within the region amongst other economic activities.
He further noted that the shipyard will have the capacity to construct, refit, repair and maintain ships as well as undertake maritime services within the Lake Victoria region and other water bodies.
He said this will have a broader impact on the economy and therefore urged county governments in the lake region to draw strategies and take advantage of the shipyard and the various economic opportunities it has to offer.
"It will be possible to unlock the enormous business potential to create more employment and employment opportunities for youths at the same time generate revenue not only for themselves but the county and National government," Uhuru said.
Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa said in upgrading the shipyard, the team managed to complete the project on time despite challenges of Covid-19, short supply of maritime grade steel and lack of experienced technical personnel.
He said the shipyard once operationalised, will help unlock business and economic opportunities within the region and at the same time enhance cost effective construction of ships and boats.
He added that the facility will also aid in keeping the maritime vessels in sound operational state and at the same time serve vessels from private, local and regional operators.
The CS noted that the country had made history and for the first time in 118 years they had been able to see the first sheep built in Kenya floating.
Wamalwa said the commissioning of MV Uhuru will have an impact of increasing the volume of petroleum products being transported to Uganda from Kisumu while generating more revenue and creating jobs for the youths.
According to the Kenya Shipyard Limited, assembling the ship locally has saved the Kenyan taxpayers Sh1.3 billion, an amount that will be used on the old MV Uhuru 1 built in 1966 being operated by Kenya Railways, currently ferrying goods mainly petroleum products to Uganda.
MV Uhuru 1 has a capacity of 1,260 tonnes. Completion of MV Uhuru II will bring the total Kenya vessel capacity at the Port of Kisumu to above 3,060 tonnes.