The Government is banking on increased regional oil trade to change the fortunes of the revamped Kisumu port.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said on Tuesday that the growing demand for oil products in the region is expected give impetus to efforts at reviving the revamped port ahead of its opening tomorrow.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni, Tanzania’s Pombe Magufuli and Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo are expected to open the port upgraded at a cost of Sh3 billion.
Macharia said as a long-term solution, the State is still considering an extension of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Naivasha or revival of the old metre-gauge railway if the latter plan takes too long.
The option of connecting the SGR to old Naivasha-Malaba metre gauge, he said, was just an interim measure.
"We had to look at the economics, but if the SGR (connection) takes too long, the Nakuru-Kisumu line remains an option we can turn to because Kisumu is part of the Northern Corridor,” said the CS in an interview.
He said the move by Uganda to build a similar jetty as the one by the Kenya Pipeline Company in Kisumu was key in reigniting the triangular trade between Kisumu, Jinja and Mwanza.
"Kenya Pipeline Company has improved its throughput to the Kisumu depot with the recent launch of a nine six-inch pipeline and a lot of this will be going into the region though lake vessels. We are looking at liquid products to keep the port busy as we explore a permanent rail link," said the CS.
Uganda is building a four-million-tonne badge to evacuate oil from the Kisumu jetty in Jinja.
He added that Kenya is also banking heavily on Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to keep the facility active. Exports through the port include fertiliser, cement, rice, edible oil and general dry cargo such as spare parts.
“We are going to float the available opportunities to leaders of the neighbouring nations during the launch,” said Mr Macharia.
Among the rehabilitation works at the facility include dredging of the port area to berth bigger vessels and installation of cargo handling equipment as well as an overhaul of old rusted boat deployers (ramps for lowering boats onto the lake).
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