Keel laying ceremony marks milestone for EAMT build

31st Aug 2022

Entebbe, Uganda: A keel laying ceremony has taken place today at the Entebbe shipbuilding facility of SECO Marine (U) Ltd, an Alpha Group Company, marking an important milestone in the  construction of the East Africa Marine Transport (EAMT) ferry.

Commissioned by InfraCo Africa, part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), and Grindrod Limited (Grindrod), once built, the 96m long purpose-built roll-on/roll-off ferry will transport fully laden trucks,  operating a safe, scheduled freight service between Port Bell (serving Kampala, Uganda) and the Port at Mwanza South, Tanzania.

The first keel block was laid by Madam Sahenila Kurji, of Alpha Group, in the presence of Officials from the Ministry of Works and Transport and representatives from InfraCo Africa and EAMT to mark the commencement of the shipbuilding works.

“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.  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,” said Xolani Mbambo, CEO of Grindrod Freight Services.

“The SECO Marine shipyard, strategically located in Entebbe, will be one of the most significant infrastructure sites for the maritime industry in Uganda and in East Africa at large. The company is proud to be associated with East Africa Marine Transport Company Limited on this landmark project. The current project of indigenously building a 96-metre-long cargo ferry for EAMT in the said facility will usher in a new era for the shipbuilding industry in Uganda,” commented Mohanlal Pillai, Project Director. He continued, “SECO Marine’s team in its new facility is fully geared to completing the construction of the vessel within the scheduled delivery period. The vessel is being constructed under the survey of Bureau Veritas and will be meeting all international standards applicable to this type and size of vessel. We are dedicated to carrying out our activities with utmost professionalism and high quality assurance and QHSE standards. We are committed to training and up-skilling our local Ugandan workforce and to contributing to a sustainable maritime industry in Uganda.”

Speaking after the ceremony, InfraCo Africa’s Senior Asset Manager, Rodney Seema said: “Following construction of purpose-built  workshop facilities here in Entebbe, we are delighted to be beginning the ferry build. Having cut steel earlier this month, the keel laying ceremony is significant as we can really start to see the structure of this huge vessel! Today 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.” He continued, “Supported by EAMT, twenty five men and women are currently undertaking mariner training to crew the vessel when it is completed.”  

Expected to become operational in 2024, EAMT will cross the lake in an anticipated journey time of 22 hours, compared with the current journey around the lake by road which can take between three and four days. As well as preventing spoilage of fresh produce, reduced journey times are expected to boost trade, supporting SDG 9.4 and reducing emissions from road transport by removing freight vehicles from the region’s congested road network.

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