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Port readies for big vessels as dredging work begins

By Kepher Otieno | January 25th 2021

Youths load luggage into a water vessel destined to Jinja in Uganda from Kisumu port on January 24, 2021. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

ODM leader Raila Odinga on Saturday commissioned the dredging of Lake Victoria, which will see bigger vessels dock at Kisumu Port.

Raila, who is also the African Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development, said the works will help restore activities at the port that has remained dormant since the collapse of the East African Community in 1977.

Raila said he was hopeful the port's revival and the metre gauge railway would help boost the region’s economy.

The dredging would allow more than 10 ships to dock concurrently and increase the facility’s circumference by 400 metres. Other feeder ports along the gulf outside the main lake are also going to get a facelift.

“The dredging of Kisumu Port comes at a time when efforts to revive ports and piers along the lake including Homa Bay, Kendu Bay, Karungu Bay, and Muhuru Bay are in top gear. The elaborate network will also be supported by the ongoing revival of the railway line to the lakeside city,” Raila said.

With the rehabilitation of the railway, small towns along the line that died will come back to life, he added.

The project had earlier stalled over a contractual disagreement, which has since been addressed. The 70 metres long and 4,000-tonne dredger was shipped from Uganda by a Chinese firm - The Mango Tree Group.

''I am happy that the dredging exercise will help ease movement of vessels in the lake, which will in turn revive water transport business in the East African region,'' said Raila.

The dredging will increase the harbour's depth and make it accessible to more boats and big vessels to dock at the newly refurbished Sh3 billion Kisumu Port.

Dredging is an excavation activity usually carried out underwater to remove sand, silt, mud, rocks, weeds, and rubbish to create routes for big vessels. 

Kisumu Port, established in 1901, has been a critical link in an integrated East African rail and water transportation system, with a particular focus on freight transport.

Raila lauded President Uhuru Kenyatta for his commitment to promoting projects to revamp the economy and create jobs.

The building of the Sh1 billion Mbita causeway that opens free water flow and fish migration is also complete. It links Rusinga Island with the Mbita mainland in Homa Bay County.

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