The Kenyan government has started dredging the water body to ease vessel navigation and improve transportation at the lake. A 70-metre-long dredging vessel with the capacity to carry 4,000 tonnes, arrived in Kisumu on Thursday to begin the exercise.
The project, which starts today, will also include eradication of water hyacinth and removal of sediments to open up the lakeside port.
African Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development, Raila Odinga, launched the project which seeks to open up Winam Gulf which has been invaded by the weed, extending to Homa Bay County.
Speaking at the Kisumu Port after docking of the dredging vessel, Kenya Ports Authority head of Inland Waterways Javan Wanga said the shoreline would be drilled to at least six metres to allow berthing of heavily loaded ships.
“The government is committed to revitalising the lake for optimisation of the blue economy and make the lake beneficial to the economy of the region,” said Wanga.
Mr Wanga said the exercise will cover 62 kilometres and will take at least 30 months to complete.
“The pier has accumulated residues over the years and has made some areas shallow up to a level of between 1.5 and three metres deep,” he said.
Lake Victoria has a maximum depth of between 80 and 84 metres (276 ft) and an average depth of 40 metres (130 ft).
Water hyacinth has become a major invasive plant species in the lake and while it is native to the continent of South America, human activity has introduced the greenery to Lake Victoria, where it has negatively affected local ecosystems.
Last month, Kisumu Governor Prof. Anyang Nyong’o issued an executive order banning washing of vehicles along the shores of Lake Victoria and major water bodies in the county.
“The year 2019 is a year to deal with hyacinth finally and decisively and this I promise I will do. Henceforth, there shall be no washing of cars in the lake or on any river within the county of Kisumu,” said Governor Nyong’o during Jamhuri day celebrations in Kisumu.
He noted that water hyacinth was threatening the potential of the blue economy by endangering maritime transport and fishing activities.