After more than two years of waiting, the government is set to start dredging Lake Victoria as the quest to revive maritime trade in the region gathers momentum.
The plans were first mooted in 2018 but stalled even after the government leased a 70-metre long 4,000 tonne dredger from a Chinese company operating in Uganda to undertake the exercise.
The process is back on track after the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) invited interested contractors to submit bids for dredging.
KPA is also seeking to reclaim and upgrade nearly 20 piers as well as deepen the Mbita causeway.
Dredging the port is expected to improve its capability to berth huge vessels, which will in turn help Kisumu grow into East Africa's economic hub.
A KPA official who asked not to be named told The Standard that the facility is expected to berth vessels of up to 1,000 metric tonnes and have an initial port capacity of 600,000 metric tonnes annually.
This will be a major boost in the quest to revive maritime trade and improve cargo exports through the lake, effectively removing over-reliance on road transport.
“The dredging is part of the wider turnaround strategy the authority is working on to ensure that maritime trade is revived in Lake Victoria,” said the official.
The authority said the Sh2 million project also targets dredging works on feeder ports.
The piers around the lake are pivotal in the transformation of maritime transport and were the centre of activity in the 1990s when Lake Victoria’s transport system was thriving.
Today, however, the piers are in a sorry state, with some destroyed by the swelling waters of the lake.
The key piers earmarked for upgrade are Asembo Bay, Homa Bay, Kendu Bay, Muhuru Bay, Kowuor Bay, Karungu Bay, Kisumu Bay, Mbita Bay and Mfangano Bay.