Repairs Of Port Bell, Jinja Piers Delays Over Funds

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He says OSK Ship Tech, a Danish firm, was hired to design a new look for the piers as well as specify the kind of equipment that will be used.

The government proposal to modernize the Port bell and Jinja Piers on Lake Victoria has slowed down due to lack of funds, URN has learnt. A senior official in the works and transport ministry who spoke to URN on condition of anonymity says that while a consultant has been secured to modernize the piers at Port Bell and Jinja, only part payment was been made for the work that is expected to end in September. He says OSK Ship Tech, a Danish firm, was hired to design a new look for the piers as well as specify the kind of equipment that will be used.

The official describes the available facilities as obsolete and in need of urgent rehabilitation. The official explains that the Port Bell pier requires dredging because of silting that has occurred over the years. Abraham Byandala, the minister for Works and Transport told Uganda Radio Network that he is aware the work is in progress after the procurement of the consultant had been concluded. Lake Victoria covers Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania with river access to Rwanda and Burundi and is estimated to be a habitat to over 30 million people living around its shores.  The lake supports Uganda’s alternative Southern route for export and imports to and from Indian Ocean through Mwanza. 

In 2013/2014 financial year budget, Maria Kiwanuka, the minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development said Lake Victoria was central to Uganda’s overall economic objectives and serves an essential factor in the anticipated regional integration. She said the development of water transport would ensure a strategic alternative route to the sea, facilitate transportation of agricultural produce and support Uganda’s geographic location as an inland distribution hub to Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and DRC. Kiwanuka argued that the revival of Lake Victoria by rebuilding port infrastructure, carrying out a definite navigational survey and environmental measures would enable the lake to become a major waterway and facilitate lowering the cost of transport to both domestic and regional destinations.

She disclosed that together with the rest of the East African countries, they were seeking multilateral assistance for a regional integration development project with Lake Victoria at its centre. She cited the repair of the Marine Vessel Kaawa that operates between Port Bell and Mwanza as a positive sign in support of reviving the Southern route to the Indian Ocean through Dar es Salaam. Government maintains that rehabilitation of Port bell and Jinja piers is necessary for encouraging business and coping with trade developments. The piers are each estimated to handle cargo worth 800,000 tonnes on average per year.

Information from the ministry of Works and Transport indicates that the design and remodeling of the piers is expected to cost US $ 4 million while the developments work is expected to cost US dollars 19 million. The water, road and rail transport subsector is estimated to have grown by 4.5 percent in 2012/13 financial year up from a growth of 2.8 percent in the previous financial year. This is attributed an increase in passenger services.