Kisumu port has witnessed increased traffic in the last one month after clearance of water hyacinth in Lake Victoria that businessmen claimed has occasioned losses of over Sh1 billion annually.
Michael Disi, the port manager, said currently there is an average of four ships that dock per week, up from only one a month ago.
“There is about 1,000 tonnes of cargo being imported and exported per week. This is after the water hyacinth cleared last month,” said Mr Disi, adding that the exports are more than the imports.
He said two months ago, a ship would not dock as the weed inundated the area, making it impossible for ships to navigate the waters.
He said the hyacinth has moved to part of Lower Nyakach, in Kisumu, adding that in January and February only three ships docked at the port.
“The effect of the hyacinth is severe and only one vessel known as Orion would dock as it has a strong engine,” Mr Disi said of the ship owned by a Tanzanian.
The main product being exported is edible oil, with most ships being owned by Tanzanians.
Some of the exports from Tanzania include Coca Cola products from Nyanza Bottling in Mwanza and sugar from Uganda.
The port was started as a wagon ferry, over 100 years ago, but currently it is a pale shadow of itself.
Tuesday, Disi said the port has potential for serving three ships per day, translating to 90 monthly.
Ports along Lake Victoria include Bukoba, Kimondo bay, Mwanza in Tanzania, Jinja and Port Bell in Uganda.
The facility has a store with a capacity of 100,000 tonnes, with large open storage space.
Under their umbrella Kisumu Business Association, the traders said the weed has impeded several sectors.
“The hospitality and transport industries are the most affected. The cost of doing business has also gone up,” said Aba Eban, the organisation’s secretary.
He said many products from Kisumu have to be transported to neigbouring Tanzania and Uganda through road yet through the lake is much cheaper.
Some time back, twenty boats each with an average of four fishermen were trapped in Lake Victoria, Kenya Red cross had reported.
The boats were trapped by water hyacinth along Rambira Beach in Karabondi sub-location in Rachuonyo North District.
Homa Bay was facing a serious threat by water hyacinth, a deadly weed that has covered over 100 acres in Lake Victoria. The floating mats of water hyacinth weed had severely affected fishing, navigation, drainage, water supply and power generation schemes.