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InfraCo Africa, Grindrod award Uganda ferry build contract to SECO Marine

9th December 2021

By: Marleny Arnoldi

Deputy Editor Online

     

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InfraCo Africa, part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), and Grindrod, have tasked SECO Marine to build a 96-m-long roll on/roll off ferry, in Entebbe, Uganda.

SECO is an affiliate company of Mombasa‐based shipyard Southern Engineering.

The ferry will transport fully laden trucks, to operate a freight service between Port Bell, in Uganda, and the port at Mwanza South, in Tanzania, with an anticipated journey time of about 24 hours.

InfraCo Africa is the majority shareholder of the East Africa Marine Transport (EAMT) project, which will pioneer a scheduled freight ferry service to facilitate trade across Lake Victoria.

EAMT has benefitted from a European Union‐Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund grant which provided funding for market and technical studies, as well as for legal and regulatory support.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Grindrod and SECO Marine to deliver the pioneering EAMT project, combining our own experience of delivering infrastructure services with Grindrod’s deep knowledge of African trade flow, as well as SECO’s ship‐building expertise.

“By bypassing congested road networks, EAMT’s scheduled marine freight service is expected to prevent about 130 000 t of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions each year, while opening up trade and promoting economic development in the Lake Victoria basin and the wider region,” explains InfraCo Africa CEO Gilles Vaes.

In the countries bordering Lake Victoria, the majority of existing freight is transported by road, with journeys around the lake taking three to four days.

To date, privately operated freight transport across the lake has been undertaken on an ad hoc basis with smaller vessels sailing only when they are full.

This approach has economic and opportunity costs for businesses, particularly those working with time‐sensitive cargo.

“Grindrod provides customers with efficient and cost‐effective routes to market for their cargoes. This solution achieves that objective and will unlock economic growth in the region through a scheduled marine freight service offering, significantly improving time to get goods to the market.

“It will also bolster Grindrod’s existing presence in East Africa in line with our objective to grow in this region. We are privileged to be an operational partner of InfraCo on this initiative,” comments Grindrod Freight Services CEO Xolani Mbambo.

EAMT is expected to become operational in 2024, and will not only create jobs but provide businesses with a faster, safer and more reliable route to regional markets.

For those transporting fresh produce, a direct route across the lake will prevent spoilage, enabling producers to cut waste and retain the value of their products.

Reduced journey times are expected to boost trade and reduce emissions from road transport by removing freight vehicles from the region’s congested road network.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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