Former Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta braved stormy weather as he oversaw the maiden flotation of MV Uhuru II Vessel in Kisumu.
Kenya and Tanzania have become experts in shipbuilding around Lake Victoria, with Tanzania running a successful shipyard in Mwanza.
In Tanzania, an ultra-modern ferry shipyard, the biggest of its kind operates on Lake Victoria shores under the Kamanga Ferry Limited in the Sengerema district of Mwanza region.
Kenya has meanwhile also just successfully built the maiden new vessel, MV Uhuru II at the Kenya Shipyards Limited (KSL) at the Kisumu Port.
KSL is a state Company under the Ministry of Defence with a mandate to lead and catalyze the introduction of the shipbuilding industry in Eastern Africa.
The 100-meter vessel with a capacity of carrying up to 22 wagons and an estimated capacity of 2 million litres of crude oil per trip is the first ship to be made in Kenya by Kenyans.
During the launch retired President Uhuru Kenyatta welcomed the operationalization of Kisumu Shipyard, saying the facility will create business and job opportunities for thousands of young people in the country.
Kisumu Shipyard, according to Uhuru, will also improve transport and safety in the lake, enhance intermodal transport as well as boost fishing, tourism and other economic activities in the Eastern Africa region.
“The Kenya Shipyards Limited’s role in the development of the Blue Economy is set to attract foreign direct investments and drive domestic direct investments in the long run.
“Its catalytic effect will trigger growth of ancillary and support industries and businesses that will all have a cascading effect across the whole of the national economy,” the President said.
The new MV Uhuru II ferry wagon was constructed by Kenyan shipbuilding experts and engineers with the support of consultants from Damen Gorinchem, a Dutch shipbuilding and engineering company.
It is a 100-meter vessel with a capacity of carrying up to 22 wagons and an estimated capacity of 2 million litres of crude oil per trip is the first ship to be made in Kenya by Kenyans.
With the successful construction of MV Uhuru II ship which gets commissioned later this year at the Kisumu Shipyard, Former President Kenyatta expressed satisfaction that Kenya has become another shipbuilding nation in Africa.
The Kisumu Shipyard will have the capacity to construct, refit, convert, repair and maintain ships as well as undertake maritime services within the Lake Victoria region and other inland water bodies.
Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa said the flotation and subsequent commissioning of MV Uhuru II complements increasing the volume of petroleum products being transported to Uganda from Kisumu while at the same time generating more revenue for the Government and creating jobs for the youth.
Chief of Defence Forces General Robert Kibochi said engineers and technicians both from Kenya and the Damen Gorinchem company of the Netherlands worked tirelessly to deliver the MV Uhuru II project in less than one year, noting that ordinarily, the project would have taken three years to complete.