On Monday, 09 October 2023, all roads led to Kisumu Shipyard for the long-awaited historic Commissioning of the locally made Wagon Ferry christened, MV Uhuru II. The Commissioning event was graced by the President of the Republic of Kenya and the Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces, H.E William Samoei Ruto accompanied by his Deputy H.E Rigathi Gachagua, the Cabinet Secretary of Defence, Hon. Aden Duale, Chief of Defence Forces, General Francis Ogolla, Governor Kisumu County, Professor Anyang’ Nyong’o, Service Commanders, and other esteemed dignitaries.

This monumental milestone not only positions the country as an anchor in ship construction by granting KSL an opportunity to amplify its voice through discharging of its mandate but is also a bold statement that Kenya is on an ambitious quest to slice a huge chunk of shares of East Africa’s maritime trade circuit which contributes to the efforts of enhancing regional integration to ease Intra-Africa trade. The dignitaries were also able to undertake a maiden trip within the lake to have a taste of the sophisticated systems put on board, as such, they expressed their utmost satisfaction with the 2.4 billion vessel and commended KSL for such a magnificent construction. The President further noted that the Shipyard which was initially in a dilapidated state has emerged barely 2 years after inception of KSL, to be a modern national asset with huge economic, environmental, and social benefits. 

MV Uhuru II is a one of a kind 100m long cargo vessel with a cruising speed of 14 knots and constructed in a record time of 24 months in partnership with MS Damen Gorichem and fitted with a range of advanced technological systems for its safe and efficient operation. The vessel boasts of a carrying capacity of 22 wagons totaling 1,800 tonnes. This is the second vessel constructed in Kenya after the MV Uhuru I which was built in 1965. To keep up with the international maritime standards and principles of shipping, the vessel adhered to strict design and outfitting as seen from its hull, piping systems, advanced engines, electrical systems, and firefighting system. The vessel will be able to augment MV Uhuru I in meeting the increased demand for cargo transportation through the lake by bringing the cargo capacity from the Port of Kisumu to above 3,060 tonnes. It will transport liquid cargo, that is, petroleum as well as dry cargo like cereals, fertilizers, sugar, and seeds. 

The President reiterated his unwavering support for KSL in effectively discharging its mandate. He further lauded KSL’s mandate which is instrumental towards harnessing available blue resources and talents to meet the region’s growing demand for quality maritime services and ensure the implementation of the Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BeTA) which has the Blue Economy agenda as a critical component and among the country’s national development priorities.  

The Managing Director of KSL, Maj. Gen. Paul Otieno, during his address said that the Commissioning ceremony of MV Uhuru II, was a testament of the relentless spirit of innovation, collaboration, craftsmanship, and esprit de corps that defines KSL and that the construction transferred critical skills to the Kenyan youths through internship programmes and hands-on on job training. To echo the President’s closing remarks, we wish MV Uhuru II, its captain and crew, fair winds, and following seas. 

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