Under-utilisation of the transport system on Lake Victoria is causing the countries sharing the water resource revenue worth $60b (about Shs222 trillion) annually.
Currently, the four member states sharing the lake Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda are only earning revenue worth $6b (about Shs14.8 trillion) from the resource.
Speaking at a Joint ministerial meeting on Strategy for Lake Victoria integrated transport programme held in Kampala recently , Uganda’s Transport and Works minister Ms Monica Azuba said:
“Over the years little achievement around the inland water transport especially on Lake Victoria which has great potential for enabling safe and cost effective transport within the region.”
Although there have been significant milestones that have been achieved in other transport systems like road transport in the region, significant steps in railway and air transport over the past decades, it’s not been the case with water transport. In Uganda for instance, Ms Azuba said the water transport sector has suffered great deterioration over the last 35 years as a result of flooding and neglect of infrastructure.
“The industry has dilapidated landing sites, ferries, boats and canoes, lack of Aids to Navigation, lack of nautical charts and Life Saving Appliances-Life jackets,” She noted.
Kenya’s cabinet secretary for transport and infrastructure, Mr James Macharia remarked the importance of developing other infrastructure networks like roads and railways saying they are linkage to water transport.
He further said: “You cannot only discuss the development of the ports without focusing on the links to these ports to close the missing link. It is important to have the roads and railway networks developed too.”
Mr Macharia called for the inclusion of other member states such as Burundi, South Sudan and Dr Congo because they are source of market to the four countries sharing Lake Victoria.
Historically, marine transport together with the rail network, played a key part on the transportation of cargo and passengers in the region.
Inland shipping on Lake Victoria formed an important component of an intermodal supply chain along the Central and Northern Corridor linking to Mombasa and Dar es Salaam ports through Kisumu, Port Bell and Mwanza ports.