Kenya has announced plans to construct a new port in the lakeside city of Kisumu county at a cost of US $140m as part of the joint standard gauge railway project.
The development comes in the face of underutilization of the Kisumu port for years despite its immense potential and strategic positioning to serve the landlocked countries in the Great Lakes Region.
The underuse has been blamed on the invasion of the weed in the lake, a poor transport system and the sorry state of its landing sites. The Kenya Ports Authority‘s 2018 figures indicate that the port handled 12,000 tonnes of fertiliser destined to Uganda, 240 tonnes of Magadi soda, 108 tonnes of heavy machinery to Tanzania and two tonnes of assorted cargo and a bottle filling machine.
In terms of imports, the port handled 1,100 tonnes of sugar from Uganda, and 50 tonnes of heavy trucks from Dar es Salaam, pointing to its under-use as a key trade route for the three countries. In its heyday, the Kisumu port was an important passenger and cargo hub interlinking Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania through the Port Bell, Jinja, Bukoba and Mwanza ports.
The new port will be developed at Kisian, 16km from the city centre, with cement, coal and petroleum products destined for the region being used as justification for its construction. Two years ago, the government signed an agreement with China Exim Bank to finance its construction. Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said the Kisian site was chosen for its potential for expansion, complete with a logistics and an industrial park.
The port will be linked by rail, with other auxiliary connections access roads, electricity connections and satellite buildings. Once complete, it will be leased out to sub-operators under an agreement with KPA. The new port will have two multipurpose berths of 3,000 tonnes and one work boat berth.