Kenya Ports agency on a mission to revamp lake transport

Kenya Ports Authority

Kenya Ports Authority board of directors chairman Gen (retired) Joseph Kibwana walks alongside Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga at the dilapidated Homa Bay town pier on September 20,2022.

Photo credit: George Odiwuor | Nation Media Group.

The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has started rehabilitating dilapidated feeder ports to restore water transport on Lake Victoria.

Revamping docks will allow large water vessels to use them.

Since the government announced plans to revive water transport in the region, work has been going on at the Kisumu port, a major hub for East African trade.

But the work did not extend to feeder ports in Siaya, Migori and Homa Bay, which remain dilapidated.

These smaller ports have been neglected although they are inter-linked across the four Nyanza counties.

KPA officials, led by board chairman retired General Joseph Kibwana, visited the region to assess the level of damage at the feeder ports.

KPA used to oversee only ocean shipping but its mandate was recently extended to include inland waters like lakes.

The agency took over the operations previously managed by Kenya Railways, which used to maintain feeder ports as it transported goods on rail.

"The board has been provided with all information about the feeder ports. We want the region to regain its lost glory when residents would travel on water," he said.

Feeder ports

Feeder ports in Nyanza include the Kendu Bay, Homa Bay and Mbita piers in Homa Bay County; Muhuru Bay and Sori Bay in Migori County; and Asembo Bay in Siaya County.

Since the suspension of lake transport more than 15 years ago, some of the structures have fallen into disrepair.

Piers in Homa Bay, which are made of concrete and steel, are eroded and falling apart. Ships can no longer dock there.

Mr Kibwana, who was with Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga, her deputy Oyugi Magwanga and County Commissioner Moses Lilan, said rehabilitating feeder ports will help revive shipping operations in Nyanza and beyond.

"Our technical officials were already sent to the ground to assess the situation of the feeder ports," he said.

Governor Wanga said the project will enhance economic development in her county and the entire Nyanza region as the lake will ease transportation of large quantities of goods on large vessels.

"Our people will have more opportunities to earn as they do business across the lake. Other job opportunities will be opened up in ship companies," she said.

Water transport, she added, will support the agricultural sector by enabling farmers to move their produce easily to other counties sharing the lake.

She pledged that her government will partner with KPA to promote the project.

Mr Lilan said rehabilitating the feeder ports will reduce accidents on the lake and promote safety and security.

At least 10 people died at the Koginga beach in Homa Bay town in September last year when a boat was hit by turbulence.

Having a functional pier will give agencies like the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) and the Kenya Coast Guard Service a place to dock their boats.

They will then be able to minimise accidents, respond to emergencies on the lake and ensure vessel operators comply with safety standards.

"Access to different parts of the lake has been a challenge because boats can't dock on the beach. With this programme, we are sure that safety and security will be restored," Mr Lilan said.

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