Those sailing on Lake Kivu in their frequent travel reveal that passenger transport by this means is still low because of limited infrastructure such as modern ships and ports facilities on the Lake, and this has impact on the travel time which is too long and sometimes they travel until late and overnight.
During morning hours, passengers from various districts of the Western Province come to board ships heading to various destinations. Most of the times, the available boats are wooden ones and they are slow and the biggest concern passengers have is the travel time seeing that at times they travel overnight on water.
There are also cargo ships carrying commodities such as cement raw materials and finished product, sand, construction stones, crates of beer, and other commodities.
Due to lack of modern ports, sailors of these ships highlighted the challenge to find appropriate area for docking ships which exposes them to risks such as water accidents.
Passengers believe that once modern ports are constructed on Lake Kivu, it will boost business activities, ease transport and grow tourism to support economic transformation. This will also ease transport to and from Congo as well as promoting cross-border trade between DRC and Rwanda.
Government of Rwanda in collaboration with development partners has embarked on bigger program of constructing modern ports giving access to five districts bordering Lake Kivu and revamping water transport. It is also planned that, end this year 2020, a new ship with a capacity to carry three (3) tons of commodities and thirty (30) passengers should start its operations on Lake Kivu and another ship with a capacity to carry ten (10) tons of cargo, six (6) vehicles and one hundred fifty (150) passengers will be in operation end 2021. This will be done concurrently with the construction of works on Rusizi, Karongi, Nkora and Rubavu ports to support ferry and cargo boats operations.
The financing source for the construction of these ports is from Government of Rwanda, UK DFID and Belgian Cooperation through Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) as well as Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). The project completion is estimated to year 2022.
Apart from construction works on ports which shall create more jobs to different categories of people targeting ample contribution from female, there is an ongoing project to construct a shipyard for ship manufacturing and maintenance as well as training center providing training to ship captains, training in assembling/maintenance ships in Rwanda.