New ship aims to revolutionise Lake Victoria freight

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A brand new freight transport ship, MV Mpungu, was launched from Entebbe on the shores of Lake Victoria on Wednesday forward of its maiden voyage in April. The ‘roll-on/roll-off’ vessel – which accommodates vehicles pushed on on the departing port, then off at their vacation spot – is meant to strengthen commerce hyperlinks between Uganda and neighbouring Tanzania.

The Mpungu will function scheduled freight companies between Port Bell, close to the Ugandan capital Kampala, and Mwanza on the southern fringe of the lake in Tanzania. The journey will take simply 18 hours – in comparison with the three or 4 days often wanted to move items by truck across the shores of the lake.

The Mpungu has a capability for as much as 1,000 tons of containerised cargo – equal to 21 trailers. The 96-metre-long vessel was in-built Entebbe over a interval of 21 months by SECO Marine, a part of the Kenyan-headquartered Alpha Group. InfraCo Africa, a part of the donor-funded Personal Infrastructure Improvement Group, and pan-African logistics firm Grindrod established a three way partnership generally known as East African Marine Transport (EAMT), which commissioned the vessel. Grindrod can be chargeable for working the Mpungu.

Talking on the launch, Xolani Mbambo, Grindrod’s CEO stated: “The ferry operation goals to offer a dependable, environment friendly and cost-effective resolution for companies within the area, thereby selling commerce, and contributing to financial development.”

InfraCo Africa’s regional asset administration lead, Rodney Seema, advised African Enterprise that the prices of transporting items to market could be “prohibitively excessive” for merchants at current. “Freight transport throughout Lake Victoria is undertaken on an advert hoc foundation and vessels sail solely when they’re full. This method has financial and alternative prices for companies, notably these working with time delicate cargo.”

Seema provides that Mpungu is ready to convey explicit advantages for firms promoting produce that’s susceptible to spoilage. “For these transporting time-sensitive contemporary produce, the dependable, scheduled EAMT service will allow them to plan their shipments, saving time – and the potential spoilage of produce – and avoiding driver fatigue.”

Security and environmental advantages

Marine transport on the Mpungu is probably a lot safer than long-distance highway journeys. Highway accidents are the fourth-most widespread reason for dying for males in Uganda, in response to World Well being Group knowledge, and the fifth-most widespread in Tanzania.

And the advantages of a professionally constructed and operated marine transport vessel could be illustrated by a number of current disasters on poorly maintained ferries. Some 228 persons are thought to have died when Tanzanian ferry MV Nyerere capsized on Lake Victoria in 2018. As many as 1,000 perished in one other catastrophe in 1996, when the severely overcrowded MV Bukoba sank on the lake.

Growing using marine transport also can convey environmental advantages. Seema says that the Mpungu has been designed to be fuel-efficient and to scale back carbon dioxide emissions by way of displacing highway transport. 

Seema believes that the Mpungu, which can serve different ports in Uganda and Tanzania sooner or later, in addition to increasing into Kenya, may persuade different traders of the advantages of marine transport within the area.

“It’s anticipated that, by demonstrating demand for a scheduled roll-on roll-off freight service, EAMT will stimulate additional funding within the sector to increase out there routes, opening up new markets for freight carriers throughout the area and shining a lightweight on Lake Victoria’s potential as a conduit for commerce,” he says.

InfraCo Africa has additionally invested in Kenyan firm Waterbus, primarily based in Kisumu, which is seeking to increase passenger ferry companies on the lake. 

On the launch of the Mpungu, Ugandan minister for works Echwera Musa praised the mission and predicted a vivid future for marine transport within the area.

“This lake can be stuffed with dependable vessels within the years to return,” he stated.


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