18 January 2019

Kenya: Raila to Launch Dredging, Hyacinth Removal At Lake Victoria

Transport on Lake Victoria is set for a boost after the government started dredging the water body to ease vessel navigation.

The project, which starts today, will also include eradication of water hyacinth and removal of sediments to open up the lakeside port.

The project, to be launched by African Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development Raila Odinga, seeks to open up Winam Gulf which has been invaded by the weed, extending to Homa Bay County.

Kenya Ports Authority head of Inland Waterways Javan Wanga said the exercise will cover 62 kilometres and will take at least 30 months to complete.

BLUE ECONOMY

Speaking at the Kisumu Port after docking of the dredging vessel, Mr Wanga said the shoreline would be drilled to at least six metres to allow berthing of heavily loaded ships.

"The pier has accumulated residues over the years and has made some areas shallow up to a level of between 1.5 and three metres deep," he said.

Mr Wanga added that the landing bay would be widened to around 80 metres to enable it to accommodate two ships at a time.

"The government is committed to revitalising the lake for optimisation of the blue economy and make the lake beneficial to the economy of the region," he said.

The 70-metre-long dredging vessel, which has the capacity to carry 4,000 tonnes, arrived in Kisumu on Thursday.

HYACINTH

Kisumu Deputy Governor Mathews Owili and officials of Kenya Maritime Authority, Kenya Pipeline Corporation, Kenya Railways Authority, Lake Victoria Basin Commission and Lake Region Economic Bloc were at the port to receive the vessel.

Mv Mangoe Tree administrator Frank Nenard, however said the removal of the stubborn weed would start after three months as they await two hyacinth harvesting machines to be shipped from China.

In the meantime, he pointed out, the firm will hire and train locals to clean-up the lake. "We will need to remove the hyacinth weed before starting the dredging," Mr Nenard said.

Mr Wanga said there are plans to put up a barricade around the gulf to effectively control the weed.

"The hyacinth harvester is envisioned to stay around for the next 10 years and we hope to eradicate the weed by the time," he said.

Dr Owili said the dredging and removal of the hyacinth are just part of the plan to transform the lake infrastructure.

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