The national government is set to use ksh 15 billion to revitalize Lake Victoria’s blue economy. The revival of Lake Victoria was launched by the AU special envoy and the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga on early January this year.
This ongoing project comprises of four phases; removal and clearing of all water hyacinth in the lake, transformation of the Kisumu port into modern, renewing of the old metre-gauge railway from Nakuru to Kisumu and establishment of a ship assembly yard.
A medium marina, is also expected to be constructed alongside the Kisumu city. The Uganda-based Chinese company, Mango Tree Group, has been contracted to construct the yard that will be located between Tilapia Beach hotel and Hindu crematorium. Mango Tree Group offers various maritime services in Africa and beyond.
The project is being supervised by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure.
Water Kenya has learnt that President Uhuru Kenyatta directed four water hyacinth harvesters to be used in dredging the lake so as to fast track this project at the shortest time possible.
Doris Ombara who is the Kisumu city manager says they are going to follow president Uhuru directive as instructed.
There is also an existing harvester (bought by the National Government at a cost of Sh81 million), that will also be used in clearing the water hyacinth weed.
She spoke during the groundbreaking ceremony where he added that the construction of the Sh130 million ship assembly yard at Kisat Beach will help Kisumu realize greater heights in the East Africa trade.
The county government says its partnering with Kenya Railways, which has large portions of the lake front land, to provide some of it for development of this project.
Kenya efforts to clean the lake might have been influenced by their neighbours; that is Tanzania’s Mwanza port revival, which had been dormant for 10 years, and the Uganda rejuvenation of the Jinja and Port Bell.
The dredger brought in by Mango Tree from Uganda will concurrently dig the Kisumu port area as well as removing water hyacinth. Dredging is expected to take one year.
Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) which began managing Kisumu port in 2017, will invest millions of shillings in modernising the railway that connects the port.
Kenya Maritime Authority, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), KPC and Kenya Railways are all participating in the project, which is likely to help KPC’s regain its regional oil transport business.
The Kisumu County Government says its expecting to use this project to foster economic recovery through hosting of an Africities conference in 2021 and it has also embarked on efforts to restructure the city to exploit its full potential.
“Turning the town to face the lake presents us with the biggest opportunity to realise Kisumu’s full socio-economic potential. We have already procured the services of city planners, including one from France, to help us zone the town afresh,” said Ombara.
This will create industrial opportunities on the Obote Road hence providing an enabling environment within Kisumu County.
“We have also opened talks with Kenya Railways and KPA, which jointly own over 300 acres of land currently in disuse or underused, to lease them to us on a long-term basis or cede the land, so that we can use it for facilities that conform with our plan to maximise potential,” Ombara said.