The President of the Republic of Kenya and Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces, His Excellency Dr. William Samoei Ruto today, officiated the commissioning and maiden launch of MV Uhuru II at the Kenya Shipyards Limited (KSL) in Kisumu.
MV Uhuru II was constructed out of the high demand for freight services within the lake region and to augment MV Uhuru I to meet the rising demand.
In his address, the Commander in Chief noted that the occasion represented a key milestone in the shipbuilding industry in Kenya and the Eastern Africa region. He further underscored Kenya Shipyards’ ability to build, repair and maintain ships locally and regionally as not only a reflection of the nation’s commitment to harnessing available resources and talents to meet both local and regional demand for quality maritime services, but also an exemplification of the spirit of self-reliance and regional cooperation.
“MV Uhuru II before us is not only a means of transportation, but also a catalyst for economic growth and development in our region. It will facilitate trade, create jobs, and open up opportunities for businesses to thrive. There exist enormous business prospects in the construction, repair and maintenance of maritime vessels in the region and I urge KSL to go for those opportunities,” noted the President.
The President further urged County Governments within the Lake Victoria Basin to take advantage of the economic opportunities presented by the shipbuilding industry so as to unlock the economic potential that abound within the Great Lakes Region. He assured of his government’s continual cooperation with partners and other stakeholders within Lake Victoria Basin and beyond to sustainably exploit the available natural resources to the benefit of Kenyans.
In closing, he thanked the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and the Kenya Shipyards’ Limited together with its strategic partners and stakeholders whose hands brought MV Uhuru II to life and hence improved the overall operational readiness of the country’s defence industrial capacity.
The Managing Director (MD) Kenya Shipyards Limited, Major General Paul Otieno recapitulated the President’s sentiments, adding how the vessel which had been constructed from scratch by KSL personnel in conjunction with Ms Damen Gorinchem from the Netherlands, was envisioned sometime after successful rehabilitation of ‘MV Uhuru I’ back in 2019.
“Today is a day of immense pride and accomplishment as we witness the commissioning ceremony of ‘MV Uhuru II’ which embodies the relentless spirit of innovation, collaboration, craftsmanship, and teamwork that defines our organization. This marine vessel is more than just a product of steel and machinery; it is a testament to KSL’s capacity to overcome challenges, adapt to changing environments, and conquer the complexities of modern shipbuilding. It will carry our flag across the lake, bearing witness to our dedication to responsible and sustainable shipping,” he noted.
MV Uhuru II is capable of transporting 1,063 tonnes of cargo and is optimized for transportation of petroleum oil products as well as bulk dry cargo such as cereals, fertilizers, sugar and seeds. The vessel is fitted with modern and efficient engines and has a cruising speed of 14 knots. Compared to MV Uhuru I, the sailing time to Jinja from Kisumu is estimated to have been reduced by 4 hours.
Construction of MV Uhuru II was completed within a period of 24 months, 12 months ahead of the normal 36 that it ordinarily takes to complete a project of such scale. This has led to the realization of savings on production costs and acquisition of critical skills in shipbuilding by KSL personnel through internship programs and hands-on job training.
In attendance were the Deputy President Honorable Rigathi Gachagua, Cabinet Secretary Defence, Honorable Aden Duale, Chief of Defence Forces, General Francis Ogolla, Governor Kisumu county Professor Anyang’ Nyong’o, Service Commanders, among other invited guests.