Kisumu Port set for a facelift

Kisumu – January 22,2019

Plans are underway for the construction of a new Port in Kisumu to allow bigger vessels to dock at the once vibrant facility in the East African region.

African Union (AU) High Representative for Infrastructure Development and former Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Raila Amolo Odinga made the announcement recently at the Kisumu Pier while launching the dredging and removal of water hyacinth from Lake Victoria.

The former Premier said following these plans the Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) and the Kenya Ports Authority will respectively rehabilitate the old railways from Nakuru to Kisumu and refurbish the old Port.

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African Union Special envoy for Infrastructure Hon. Raila Odinga speaking during the launch of the dredging vessel in Kisumu.

"As you are aware the Standard Gauge Railway has now reached Naivasha. The railway will bring cargo up to this Port of Kisumu and from there it will be loaded on the ship and transported to Uganda. However, that is just a temporary measure. I want to announce that the SGR is coming here as well and very soon the work is going to start and it will commence where a new Port will be constructed," he said.

Mr. Odinga recalled how the Port of Kisumu used to be vibrant in the previous years with ships docking on an hourly basis bringing goods from Mwanza, Bukoba, Port Bell and Jinja.

He regretted that thousands of jobs had been lost following the lull of the Kisumu Port and that for lack of activities the water hyacinth found its way in the Lake Victoria.

"There's a lot of dumping in the lake polluting the environment which attracts hyacinth hence the gulf here has become very shallow, it is confounded by the Mbita causeway which was constructed and blocked the flow of water in the main way. Now they have built a bridge in Mbita but did not remove the boulders underneath and water is not flowing properly. Last week we talked with President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Cabinet Secretary for Transport and instructions were given that all those boulders below the Mbita Bridge will be removed for water to flow suitably," added Mr. Odinga.

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KPA Managing Director Dr. Arch. Daniel Manduku reecives the Chief Guest Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga at the Kisumu Pier.

He went on to explain to the public that since the Kenya Pipeline had already constructed a jetty on the other side of the Kisumu Pier it meant that oil could be collected from Kisumu to Uganda by ship which was a cheaper and more cost effective mode of transport compared to road.

"The vessel that you are seeing here is called a dredger. It will be dredging the old Port here and also the broader side of the Pier; the Pipeline. Then they will construct an 80 meter wide canal, six meters deep, 63 kilometers long up to Mbita to allow bigger ships to berth because as it stands now big ships cannot come here. So here is the dredger, next harvesters will also be brought because we want to harvest and clear the water hyacinth and this project will take three months," said Hon. Odinga.

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Members of the Organizing Committee for the launch of the dredging and removal of water hyacinth led by Kisumu Deputy Governor Dr. Mathew Owili (seated centre) pose for a group photo in front of the 4000 tonne dredger MV Mangoe Tree.

He was quick to add that in his capacity as the AU High Representative for infrastructure development rehabilitation of the Port of Kisumu remains one of the key priority projects that would make the Trans-African Highway a practical route from Lagos to Mombasa, Mombasa to Kisumu, Kisumu to Port Bell, Port Bell to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), DRC to the Central African Republic, and then to Cameroon and back to Lagos.

The AU Special envoy observed that this was a sure way of promoting intra-Africa trade noting that currently Africa to Africa trade is less than 15 per cent when Europe to Europe and Asia to Asia trade stands at 70 per cent and 56 percent respectively.

"Kisumu has the biggest dry dock inland in the entire African continent. All the ships that used to ply here including SS Usoga, SS Nyanza, MV Victoria and MV Uhuru among others were all manufactured here in one of the biggest workshops," Odinga added.

Leaders express support for Kisumu Port Project

KPA Managing Director Dr. Arch. Daniel Manduku who spoke on behalf of the CEOS of the participating agencies in the initiative assured the meeting of the preparedness and commitment to make Kisumu regain its glory as a hub of trade.

"I want to confirm that as KPA we are committed to the rehabilitation of Mombasa Port as well as Kisumu Port. We are here to launch the first phase of the rehabilitation project which is specifically the removal of the water hyacinth. After that we shall start the actual construction work of the Pier, extension of the quay side to 900 meters, a new office block,  workshops and a slip way. So on behalf of government officials, I want to confirm that this project is a priority for us," said Dr. Manduku.

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KPA Managing Director Dr. Arch. Daniel Manduku addressing the meeting.

The dredging and the removal of the water hyacinth are part of the great transformation of the lake related activities which include the construction of the new Port as well as the rehabilitation of the related infrastructure.

The works will also be carried out in Muhuru Bay, Kendu Bay, Asembo Bay, Karungu, Sori, Port Victoria and Sio Port.

Besides KPA, other participating agencies in the initiative include Kenya Railways, Lake Victoria Basin Commission, Kenya Pipeline Company, Kenya Maritime Authority, Lake Region Economic Bloc, National Environment Management Authority and the County Government of Kisumu.

Those present during the function included among others Uganda's Minister of State for Works and Transport  Hon. Bagiire Aggrey,  Uganda's Vice Chairman of the Ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) Party Captain Mike Mukula, Uganda Railways Corporation Managing Director Eng. Charles Kateeba, Kisumu Deputy Governor Dr Mathew Owili, Homa Bay Deputy Governor Hamilton Orata, Vihiga Deputy Governor Dr Patrick Saisi, Kisumu Senator Fred Outa, Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang, Kisumu Woman Rep Rosa Buyu, Kisumu Central MP Fred Ouda, Seme MP Dr James Nyikal, Kisumu East MP Shakeel Shabir, Kisumu West MP Olago Aluoch, Nyakach MP Aduma Awuor, Uriri MP Mark Nyamita, Mathare MP Anthony Oluoch, Youth and Gender Affairs Chief Administrative Secretary Rachel Shebesh, former Kisumu Deputy Governor Ruth Odinga, Kisumu County Assembly Speaker Onyango Oloo, Kisumu County Executive Committee (CEC) members, Kisumu MCAs, Lake Region Economic Bloc CEO Abala Wanga, KPA's Head of Inland Waterways Eng. Javan Wanga, General Manager Mr. Sudi Mwasinago, Kisumu Port Manager Charles Kitur, Deputy Port Manager Lukas Ondiago and Principal Officer Strategy Cosmas Makori.

Kisumu Governor Prof. Peter Anyang Nyong'o said his government places a high premium on Lake Victoria especially in harnessing the blue economy for sustainable development.

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The Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga on a tour at the Kisumu Pier accompanied by senior government officials. 

"Some of the opportunities in the blue economy sectors that the County Government of Kisumu is looking forward to harness in the maritime cycle and logistics – the jetty in Kisumu presents a viable option for lake transportation of oil products for neighboring countries of Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. When the SGR extends to Kisumu and a terminal is finally established it will be possible to transport even more of Kenya's products to the regional markets on the lake," he said in a speech delivered on his behalf by Deputy Governor Dr. Mathew Owili.

Uganda's Minister of State for Works and Transport Hon. Bagiire Aggrey said, "Sir, we pledge and know that if this hyacinth problem is sorted out, again this Port with the renewed effort of Uganda working with Kenya and other partners is going to take the kind of shape and glory that it had before the problem began."

He said back in Uganda they are building more Ports which will be of value if Kenya manages to solve the problem at Kisumu Port which remains the biggest gateway.

"We want to tell you the leaders and managers of this nation and the people of Kenya that we relish and support this effort. That is why we have Mangoe Tree here which is a Ugandan company to ensure that we work together to make sure that this Port lives to its potential," said the minister.

Captain Mukula of Uganda's Ruling Party expressed similar sentiments adding "we are here to ensure that the Kenya Railways together with Uganda Railways can continue to trade and use the Kenya Ports under the Kenya Ports Authority to move cargo, people and services to Uganda freely using the ports of Port Bell, Jinja, Bukakata all the way to Mwanza, Tanzania and even Rwanda because God gave us this opportunity."

He announced that the private sector in Kauku, Uganda, is building four ships to transport fuel from the Kisumu jetty to Uganda.

"One ship will have the capacity to carry the equivalent of what Uganda consumes in one day on the minimum about five million litres per day. The ship will be loaded with 4.8 million litres of fuel as it goes all the way from the Port of Kisumu to Uganda."