Keel laying ceremony marks milestone for EAMT build

31st August 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.

Notes for Editors:

  • Formerly known at Lake Victoria Marine Transport, EAMT was originated by InfraCo Africa’s developer, eleQtra.
  • Inadequate transport infrastructure presents a major barrier to trade expansion in sub-Saharan Africa. Limited routes are vulnerable to disruption and the costs of transporting goods to market are prohibitively high for regional traders and producers.
  • EAMT has benefitted from a European Union-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund (EU-AITF) grant which provided funding for market and technical studies as well as for legal and regulatory support.
  • The Heads of State of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC) are committed to adopting an integrated approach to diversifying trade routes, recognising the potential to transform Lake Victoria from a trade barrier to an important trade route.

The Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) PIDG is an innovative infrastructure project developer and investor which mobilises private investment in sustainable and inclusive infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa and south and south-east Asia. PIDG investments promote socio-economic development within a just transition to net zero emissions, combat poverty and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). PIDG delivers its ambition in line with its values of opportunity, accountability, safety, integrity and impact. Since 2002, PIDG has supported 190 infrastructure projects to financial close which provided an estimated 220 million people with access to new or improved infrastructure. PIDG is funded by the governments of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, Sweden, Germany and the IFC

InfraCo Africa: InfraCo Africa is part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) and seeks to alleviate poverty by mobilising investment into sub-Saharan infrastructure projects. It does this by investing directly into early-stage projects or by funding experienced teams to provide project development leadership. Through its investments arm, InfraCo Africa can also provide equity to close a financing gap and start construction or fund innovative solutions that need support to scale-up, to pilot new products or enter new markets. InfraCo Africa is funded by the governments of the United Kingdom (through FCDO), the Netherlands (through DGIS) and Switzerland (through SECO). To find out more visit:

Grindrod Limited is listed on the JSE, and invested in a port, strategically located dry-bulk and multi-purpose terminals, logistics operations and a bank. Logistics solutions include road transportation, rail services, sea freight, intermodal solutions, stevedoring, clearing & forwarding, ships agency and supporting services. We work hard every day to earn our customer's trust. We are passionate about understanding their unique requirements and collaborating with them to create the most cost-effective and efficient solution to move cargo across trade corridors in sub-Saharan Africa. To find out more visit

SECO Marine (U) Ltd: an affiliate of a Mombasa-based Shipyard, Southern Engineering Co. Ltd (SECO) and a part of the larger Alpha Group of companies, is a solution-driven engineering company specializing in marine and offshore engineering solutions in Uganda. To find out more visit

Alpha Group: Engineering, Logistics & Supply Chain Management: With more than 60 years of operations, Alpha Group through its various subsidiaries has achieved remarkable growth in the areas of High-end Engineering, Onshore & Offshore Project Support and Integrated Marine Logistics, Onshore & Offshore Piling solutions, Infrastructure development, Cold Supply Chain Management & Warehousing as well as Remote Camps Management and Catering Services .Services. With over 6000 employees and 300 local and international clients, the Group has carved a niche for itself with operations in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Somalia, and Mozambique. To find out more visit

For further information please contact:
Lorna McNae
Communications Manager, InfraCo Africa [email protected]