As part of efforts to restore maritime trade and promote blue economy activities in Lake Victoria, Kenya has launched the first ship to be built in the country from scratch.
MV Uhuru II, a Sh2.4 billion ($16m) cargo ship that was locally constructed and assembled at the Kenya Shipyards in Kisumu, was commissioned by President William Ruto on Monday.
“I hereby place MV Uhuru II into commission. May her engines roar and bring her to life. May the glide of her sail be smooth. May good tidings be with her and her crew. May the almighty God bless her voyages,” the president said, according to Tuko.co.ke.
The ship, with a capacity of 1,800 tons, will enhance trade and transport in the region as it will ferry goods and oil across Lake Victoria. Also with a capacity of two million liters of crude oil per trip, the 100-meter vessel can carry 22 wagons across the lake, authorities said, adding that it can sail to the neighboring Uganda and Tanzania within 10 hours. Kenyan agencies, including the Kenya Defense Forces, built the ship at the Kenya Ship Yard in partnership with a Dutch firm, Damen Shipyards.
Equipped with advanced systems including its hull structure and piping systems as well as its firefighting system and electrical equipment, the ship was specially built to efficiently cater to the demands of commercial shipping. MV Uhuru II is currently here to complement the MV Uhuru I, which was built in 1966 and ferries mainly petroleum products to Uganda, as reported by Standard Media.
With Kenya now being the pioneer of shipbuilding in East and Central Africa, the ship will not only cater to the transportation of goods through the lake by regional countries but also provide job opportunities for locals.
According to a report on Kenya’s transport sector, the country’s movement of goods and people to facilitate economic activities takes place by road, water, air or rail. As part of delivering Kenya’s Vision 2030, the country recently constructed a standard gauge railway from Mombasa to Naivasha (592 km in total), which will shift at least 40% of freight from road to rail.
In effect, Kenya’s transport sector accounts for 8.3% of its total GDP, with the maritime sector being a major pillar of the country’s economy.