The Kisumu Port, rehabilitated at Sh3 billion, is set to be reopened this week, raising the fortunes of the Western Kenya city as a regional economic hub.
The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has been preparing for the relaunch, which is expected to reawaken the once vibrant inland port.
“All is set and the port will start handling cargo in the coming days as we seek to reignite the triangular trade between Kisumu, Jinja in Uganda and Tanzania’s Mwanza Port,” said a KPA source who sought anonymity.
The roaring back to life of the port which was established in 1901 is expected will make Lake Victoria a crucial transport corridor in the shipment of general cargo into and out of the East African region.
Some of the goods that Kenya plans to export via the port include fertiliser, cement, rice, edible oil and general dry cargo such as spare parts.
But even as Kenya anticipates having oil trade as a major source of income to the revitalised port, the Sh1.9 billion Kisumu oil jetty which was completed in March last year will have to wait for the neighbouring Uganda to complete its side of the docking facilities.
Uganda is building a four-million-tonne badge on its part of Lake Victoria shore to evacuate oil from the Kisumu jetty.
From Uganda, the oil will also be exported to other landlocked countries including Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga are expected to preside over the reopening of the port, touted as a major fruit of the “handshake.”
KPA managing director Daniel Manduku, however, said he was not aware whether Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Tanzania’s Pombe Magufuli and Felix Tshisekedi of DRC would attend the relaunch.
His counterpart from the Kenya Railways Corporation Phillip Mainga also promised to call back after a board meeting on Monday but did not get back by the time of going to press.
The port, which has already been secured from members of the public currently has only two access points which are manned by security personnel.
Among the rehabilitation works at the facility include safeguarding of link roads to the port, installation of cargo handling equipment, concreting of the port yard, rehabilitation of the dry dock as well as an overhaul of old rusted boat deplorers (ramps for lowering boats onto the lake).