New EAMT truck ferry to cut travel time across Lake Victoria – Grindrod

A keel-laying ceremony at the Entebbe shipbuilding facility of SECO Marine, an Alpha group company, has marked a milestone in the construction of the East Africa Marine Transport (EAMT) ferry. EAMT was formerly known as Lake Victoria Marine Transport. Advertisement

Commissioned by InfraCo Africa, part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), and Grindrod, once built, the 96-m-long roll-on/roll-off ferry will transport fully-laden trucks on a scheduled freight service between Port Bell (serving Kampala, Uganda) and the Mwanza South port, in Tanzania. PIDG is funded by the governments of the UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, Sweden, Germany and the International Finance Corporation.  Advertisement

Expected to become operational in 2024, the EAMT ferry will cross Lake Victoria in an anticipated journey time of 22 hours, compared with the current journey time around the lake by road of between three and four days.  The reduced journey time is expected to prevent the spoilage of fresh produce, boost trade and reduce road transport emissions by removing freight vehicles from the region's congested road network. "Integral to Grindrod's strategy is understanding our customers' business as if it were our own and finding a solution to move their cargo efficiently and cost-effectively to markets," explains Grindrod Freight Services CEO Xolani Mbambo.

"We believe that once in operation, the EAMT ferry will alleviate many of the challenges faced by businesses in the region, promote trade and contribute to economic growth." "The SECO Marine shipyard, located in Entebbe, will become one of the most significant infrastructure sites for the maritime industry in Uganda and in East Africa at large," notes project director Mohanlal Pillai. "The current project of indigenously building a 96-m-long cargo ferry for EAMT will usher in a new era for the shipbuilding industry in Uganda."

"The vessel is being constructed under the survey of Bureau Veritas and will meet all international standards applicable to this type and size of vessel," adds Pillai. "Following construction of purpose-built workshop facilities here in Entebbe, we are delighted to be beginning the ferry build," says InfraCo Africa senior asset manager Rodney Seema. "Having cut steel earlier this month [August], the keel laying ceremony is significant as we can really start to see the structure of this huge vessel. 

T[his] is the culmination of many years of hard work by all parties who are committed to EAMT's pioneering vision of delivering a faster, safer and more reliable route to regional markets." 

Supported by EAMT, 25 men and women are currently undertaking mariner training to crew the vessel once it is completed.