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A consortium led by Maritime & Transport Business Solutions (MTBS) of Netherlands has been appointed to advice on the planned construction of a modern Sh22.5 billion port in Kisumu as Kenya eyes bigger maritime trade in the region.
The Treasury’s Public-Private Partnership Unit (PPPU) said the consortium will undertake a feasibility study on the commercial and technical viability of the project to be implemented by the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).
“The project entails development of Kisumu Port into a modern commercial Lake Port to serve the growing trade in the EAC region on a BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) basis,” it said.
MTBS is part of a consortium currently assisting in the selection of a private terminal operator for container operations on the Mombasa Port Development Project (MPDP).
It is responsible for the financial model, the PPP structuring and the traffic forecast in phase 1 of the project.
In phase two, MTBS will provide assistance in the evaluation of bids and the negotiations concerning the PPP contract.
Kisumu is deemed a critical hub for trade with neighbouring countries such as Tanzania and Uganda and by extension Rwanda and Burundi as well those in the Great Lakes Region.
For decades, the port registered robust business activity helped by a reliable railway system and maritime vessels that ferried cargo to ports such as Mwanza and Bukoba in Tanzania and Jinja and Port Bell in Uganda.
Lake Victoria’s economic activity has been eroded by a number of factors, including a derelict railway infrastructure and impenetrable and stubborn water hyacinth as well as boundary disputes that have turned the fresh water lake into a liability.
Plans by the government to construct as new sea port in Kisumu and extend a branch of the standard gauge railway being built from Mombasa is expected to restore high economic activity in the town’s maritime industry.
“A new port facility and a reliable railway system will definitely help bring back the past glory to the maritime industry in Kisumu.
Most of the trucks you see ferrying containers on highways to Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo will be off the road because it would be faster and cheaper doing so by vessels across the lake,” a KPA official said.
Road transport remains the preferred mode of shipment between Nairobi and the lakeside down, new data by KPA showed.
In 2014 the container depot located in Kisumu’s Kibos area only handled 74 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), an equivalent of 176 per cent drop from the previous year’s 204 TEU.