Preparation for dredging in front of Kisumu drydock is underway ahead of MV Uhuru II wagon ferry trials, a cargo ship under construction that will be used within Lake Victoria.
The ship’s hull is designed to be strong and durable, capable of withstanding the stresses and strains of heavy cargo and rough waters. The hull is constructed from high-quality steel and carefully welded together to form a watertight enclosure that will protect the cargo and crew from the elements, Kenya Shipyard Limited, which is constructing the vessel said.
MV Uhuru II is a state-of-the-art cargo ship, equipped with a range of advanced systems that are essential for its safe and efficient operation. From its hull structure and piping systems to its engines, electrical equipment, and firefighting system, every aspect of the ship has been carefully designed and constructed to ensure that it can meet the demanding needs of commercial shipping, adds KSL.
The 100-meter vessel, with a capacity of carrying up to 22 wagons and an estimated capacity of 2 million liters of crude oil per trip is the first ship to be made in Kenya by Kenyans.
Two ships from Uganda will join the other two from Kenya, MV Uhuru II and MV Uhuru, which was refurbished in 2019 by the Kenya Railways (KR) and Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), after being grounded for nearly three decades.
This comes at a time when the East African countries are eying inland water transport through Lake Victoria which is spread in the three biggest East African states of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.
The three countries are seeking to have maritime operations on shared waters in Lake Victoria connected to enhance integration and grow trade by offering cheaper transport across borders.
MV Uhuru has been making voyages from Kisumu Port loaded with oil to Port Bell in Uganda signifying the importance of Lake Victoria in revamping the water transport system in the region. The first consignment was done in 2020, containing 22 wagons loaded with 894,000 liters of diesel.
Oil is being pumped to lake city through the pipeline operated by the Kenya Pipeline Corporation (KPC) and then shunted from the oil jetty to Kisumu port for onward transmission to Jinja and Entebbe.
In May 2020, the government breathed life into the war to regain control of East Africa’s petroleum market by funding the Kenya Pipeline jetty in Kisumu to the tune of Sh1.7 billion.
Transport through Lake Victoria has been dormant for more than two decades. Uganda remains Kenya’s top export market for imported oil products (super petrol, diesel, kerosene, and Jet A 1-aviation fuel). Seventy percent of Kenya’s exports go to Uganda.
Tanzania has also made significant gains in the Lake Victoria transport system. The country completed the construction of the Mwanza, Musoma, and Bukoba ports.
Goods ferried through the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Mombasa to Naivasha will be transported to Kisumu port through the revamped MGR line for onward shipment to various destinations through Lake Victoria.
The Kenyan government has connected the SGR to the MGR at the Naivasha Inland Container Deport, allowing a seamless flow of cargo from the Port of Mombasa to Kisumu.
To tap into the petroleum products transportation business, Kenya Railways constructed a 1.8 km railway line to the Kenya Pipeline Corporation (KPC) depot in Kisumu. According to KR, MV Uhuru can make 10 round trips in a month between Kisumu Port and Port Bell in Uganda with the capacity to carry 22 tank wagons.
It takes 13 hours from Kisumu to Jinja and 17 hours from Kisumu to Port Bell making this the fastest means to transport the commodity to neighboring Uganda.
The planned increase in the number of vessels now means a higher maritime capacity in the lake, which has a catchment area covering 193,000 square kilometers in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, as well as parts of Rwanda and Burundi.
Uganda, as a developing maritime nation, continues to build its capacity in the maritime sector. The government, through the Ministry of Works and Transport, embarked on reviewing all maritime legislation which gave birth to a new law, the Inland Water Transport Act, 2021.
“We are also currently developing a tri-modal port, the new Kampala Port at Bukasa, which is intended to be the main gateway for all regional imports and exports through Lake Victoria,” Gen Edward Katumba, Minister for Works and Transport in Uganda said when he addressed 7th Intergovernmental Standing Committee on Shipping (ISCOS) in Uganda on 10 March 2022. He took over its chairmanship from Kenya.
In addition, he said, the government will remodel the existing ports of Jinja and Port Bell to be fishing and passenger ports, respectively. Further, designs have been concluded for the development of selected landing sites on Lake Victoria which are envisioned to improve cabotage on the Lake.
“With the increasing need for collaboration as enshrined in the SDG 17 and the African Agenda 2063; as Nile Basin Countries, we are closely studying the possibility of establishing a Navigational Line between Lake Victoria and the Mediterranean Sea through a project Victoria and Mediterranean (VICMED) which is under Feasibility Study Phase 2,” Katumba told the Assembly’s participants.
This will bring many possibilities for the communities in the Nile Basin to exploit the Blue economy. In the same spirit, Uganda is developing the Ntoroko One-Stop Border Post, which will include a modern jetty that will open up the Uganda–DRC maritime route, drastically cutting travel times and further facilitating more trade between the two nations.
This article was published by an editorial consultant and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org