The refurbishment of Kisumu port after four decades since the collapse of East African Community (EAC) will revolutionise business activities in the lakeside city.
This comes as a sweet surprise considering that the port remained dormant for so long denying those who relied on it directly or indirectly livelihood.
An elated Governor Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o praised the National Government for working with the county in a bid to facilitate the reopening of the port.
Prof Nyong’o revealed in an inclusive interview with KNA that all the institutions including port infrastructure, Kenya Railway, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and MV Uhuru were all intact and so commended the people of Kisumu for safeguarding the assets over the long period.
He said the multi-sectoral approach adopted towards the refurbishment by Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), KPA, National Youth Service (NYS) and Kenya Coast guards among other institutions played a key role in the noble initiative that has so far seen MV Uhuru haul more than one million tons of oil to Port Bell since the exercise commenced.
“We are going back to full maritime transport in the Lake both for commercial goods and passengers,” Prof Nyong’o emphasised, adding,“we are also building the 26 km promenade where foreign and local tourists could take leisure walks or ride along the lake.”
The governor further explained that watersports such as boat racing, swimming and fishing will be attracting more visitors to the Lake. “We are also putting up other facilities including a landing base for people to have leisurely boating and tourism in the Western Kenya circuit,” he added.
Nyong’o confided that they have entrusted some key partners to develop a mariner to take tourists on a leisurely drive in the lake more so at night and during weekends. This is aimed at attracting a large number of visitors to the lakeside city.“The Mariner would take such visitors on an excursion similar to the one in Mwanza, Tanzania,” Governor Nyong’o stated.
“Now that Kisumu Port is set to be a beehive of activities, our duty as a government is to ensure that we have a functional city, a city that works in a model county.” he added. The rehabilitation of Kisumu port infrastructure was being undertaken alongside other similar construction in seven other smaller ports across Lake Victoria including; Muhuru Bay, Kendu Bay, Asembo Bay, Sori, Port Victoria and Sio Port.
Being one of the flagship projects, President Uhuru Kenyatta has made numerous impromptu inspection visits to the port, sometimes accompanied by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Recently, in a presentation to the Senate Standing Committee on Energy, Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC), Managing Director Macharia Irungu disclosed that Kenya Oil Jetty on Lake Victoria was complete and ready for use but the Ugandan side was still hesitant.
Kenya, Irungu added, had already completed its Sh 2 billion Oil Jetty by February 2018 but the facility remained idle, with indications that it may not become operational until later in 2021 awaiting completion of Uganda Jetty which is critical for transportation of fuel to Uganda, Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo.
At the same time Kenya Railways Marine Operations Manager, Mwalimu Disi revealed that refurbished MV Uhuru had already moved more than 17 million liters of fuel to Port Bell in Uganda in 17 commercial trips since December 2019.
The rehabilitation of the 217 km old meter-gauge Railway line from Nakuru – Kisumu at a cost of Shs. 3.8 billion under President Uhuru Kenyatta’s regime has restored hope on the Lakeside city becoming a commercial hub once again.
Asked about his legacy Nyong’o said his government has kicked off programs aimed at ensuring the countyy has infrastructure that works, where rules and regulations are followed leading to good governance that allows Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to thrive.
The Governor regretted that Covid-19 also hit the world like a thunderbolt throwing all the economic activities including in Kisumu into total disarray.
The Governor however expressed satisfaction that close border trade; movement of goods and services as well as travelers’ through the lake have resumed and lauded the EAC resolve for their people to integrate in doing business as one trading block.
Nyong’o said industries and other leisure places were also shut down and so the much anticipated reopening of the port will provide a great opportunity for local residents around the lakeside city and across the country.
“We will work hard to revamp extension services for farmers to know the various types of soils and which crops grow well in them just as our forefathers traditionally knew, “explained Prof Nyong’o.
By Joseph Ouma/Fredrick Ajok