Kisumu Port eyes success as shipped cargo volumes grow


MV Uhuru at the Kisumu Port undergoing a facelift to revive the economy of the region. [Denish Ochieng,Standard]

Better days for the nascent Kisumu Port lie ahead if the rising volumes of cargo shipped through the port can be sustained.

High demand for cargo from neighbouring countries has given the port impetus for growth and placed it on a path to success.

Data from Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) shows the volume of cargo shipped through the port has jumped from 450 tonnes to 4,600 tonnes between 2019 and 2021. The port became refurbished in 2018.

Uganda has taken advantage of the revamped port and is now constructing two ships, which will be introduced on the route before the end of the year.

The ships will join another one dubbed MV Uhuru 11 that is being constructed by Kenya Railways. It is a sister ship to MV Uhuru that is already sailing.

According to KPA, the last few months have seen an increase in exports through the port. Statistics indicate that in the month of August, 38,350 tonnes of cargo were handled at the port.

In a similar period in 2020, the port handled 26,025 tonnes. KPA said in the last one year the volume of cargo handled by the facility increased by 12,325 tonnes.

KPA Managing Director John Mwangemi told Shipping and Logistics the agency was preparing to handle more than 100,000 tonnes annually once the Kisumu-Nakuru railway is connected to the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

Figures from KPA show that eight to 10 ships dock at the port every month. Conversely, the volume of imports through the port is much lower than the exports.

According to KPA, the volume of imports through the port range between 200 tonnes and 300 tonnes monthly.

“We hope the cargo traded through the port will increase once the metre gauge railway is connected to the SGR, hopefully by end of November 2021,” said Mr Mwangemi.

Shipping and Logistics has established that KPA is in talks with an investor who wants to build a liquid bulk storage facility at the port.

Should the plans become reality, it will be a major boost for cargo transport through the port, improving the capacity to handle bulk cargo. 

“We have traders wishing to import dry bulk cargo from Tanzania and Uganda once Kenya Railways brings wagons for handling the bulk cargo. This may see 100,000 more tonnes shipped through the port,” said Mwangemi.

Kenya Railways has completed construction of a cargo handling facility a few meters from the port.

According to Mwangemi, increased efficiency and railway connection will ensure more container traffic, which could surpass transit traffic. The port has also been anchored by a Sh3 billion industrial park, besides the revised railway, which will boost its viability.

Fertilizer, Magadi soda, and heavy machinery are among cargo majorly shipped through the port.

Oil is another commodity shipped to Uganda. MV Uhuru has ferried about 30 million litres of oil to Uganda. The ship has 22 wagons, all with a capacity of 60,000 litres. ?

In each trip, the ship ferries 1.1 million litres of oil.

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