Kisumu Port’s pioneer cargo vessel MV Uhuru I has transported 74 million litres of fuel to Uganda since its operationalization in March 2020.
The revelation portends a bright future for Kisumu Port amid increased demand for water transport, with the port management indicating that MV Uhuru II which is under construction will be complete before end of the year to bridge the gap.
MV Uhuru I managed by Kenya Railways has a capacity of 1, 260 tonnes for loose cargo, and 880 tonnes for cargo parked in wagons.
The new vessel which is 60 per cent complete is expected to have a capacity of 1, 800 tonnes of cargo.
The media on February 8, got a glance at the ongoing works at the port during a media tour by Kenya Railways, Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya Pipeline.
The tour led by Government Spokesman Col Cyrus Oguna revealed massive transformation of the port whose full operationalization is expected before end of the year.
According to the Port Management, MV Uhuru I has made over 90 trips to Uganda, delivering fuel products, especially diesel.
According to Michael Disi, Operations Manager at Kenya Railways, the ship made 23 trips to Uganda in 2020, and another 44 trips in 2021.
“As you can see the trend, we expect it to make more trips this year,” said Disi.
He noted that with the combination of rail and water transport, the cost of movement of goods from Kenya to the East African countries has reduced, meaning more profit to traders.
“Through this route, the cost of transportation of cargo is 20 dollars per tonne, compared to 36 dollars per tonne on road,” said Disi.
He added: “There is also the time factor. Through water, you need 13 hours from Kisumu to Jinja, and 17 hours to Port Bell, while on road you need 17 hours from Kisumu to Port Bell.”
Colonel Peter Muthungu, the head of Kisumu Shipyard said his 460 staffs working on the new ship have increased intensity of the work ahead of delivery of the ship.
“Our initial target was to refurbish and operationalize MV Uhuru. But after it began operations, we saw more demands for its services, and this informed the construction of the new ship,” he said.
Reduced cost of doing business
Oguna said with the new ship, the government aims to help traders reduce the cost of transportation of their goods, so that they realize more profit.
“Any exporter will have a choice to make. Either go for the safe and more efficient rail and water transport, or continue with the road transport,” he said.
The construction of Kisumu Port was completed in 1901 by the British colonialists, and operated till independence time.
The management of the port was then left in the hands of Kenyans who had little capacity, leading to the collapse in late 1990s.
But President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government came in in 2019 to reawaken water transport, which saw the renovation of the port and the vessels, by the Kenya Defense Force engineers.
Three years later, the port has regained its lost glory.
“We took four months to repair all the nine departments in the MV Uhuru, at a cost of Sh46 million, down from Sh1.8 billion which had been quoted by private contractors,” said Muthungu.