When the National Council for Science and Technology released funds for development of technology in the country, Engineer Machuma saw the opportunity to finally make his dream, of building a cycling boat, come true. 

The cycling boat uses a wheel, gears and chains to transmit energy using a shaft to a propeller that then moves the boat on water.  The boat hence has two units to aide in movement i.e. the gear/chain system and the propeller. For those who have ridden a bicycle before, the cycling boat is just like your usual bi-cycle but moving on water.

A simple but brilliant innovation, this boat would make it easier to move on water with one person having the ability to comfortably sail 8 passengers for the current design. Engineer Machuma and his team also have vessels with the option of two cyclists. He says that as a spin off, he’s working on the possibility of the boat being propelled from the air as opposed to the water. 

After accessing the funds Engineer Machuma, working at the National Serials board workshop, had to set up some basic infrastructure before he began his project. 

He laid a slab on a 30 meters squared ground. This would act as his working area since his work involved piecing together large parts of the boat and could not be done in a closed door workshop.

He also build a slip way . The slipway is a raised platform on which Engineer Machuma builds his boat’s body. The slipway is raised to enable the Engineer work on the lower side of the body.

There is the hoisting mechanism that uses  a bicycle and pulley. The hoisting mechanism is used to lift the body of the boat up so that the bicycle system can be fitted.

Other equipment that he uses to prepare the bicycle are a press for producing rims and an aligning rump to ensure wheels are, as the name suggests, aligned. 

Finally, Engineer Machuma prepared a trailer that helps him transport the boat to a water body either for testing or for work. 

Engineer Machuma is awaiting final funding to complete his work but also invites potential investors to come in and assist on the project.  Engineer Machuma prides himself as the only Kenyan working on ship building and water related projects. He has trademarked two industrial designs, two patents and two utility models at KIPI. 

Engineer Machuma’s works, he says, were inspired by the book ”Fighting ships of the world”. In 2001 he applied for funding from the ministry of industrialization to venture into ship building. His major drive was to make good use of lake Victoria as a transportation media between the three east African countries. “We do not have to use roads to move goods between Kenya and Uganda, we can have a port at Kisumu and use locally manufactured ships. That will save a lot of our fuel costs” He says. His application was however not successful. His interests in ship building were renewed during the 2004 Olympic games when he imagined a cycling competition on water. His current cycling boat was built on this idea and in 2006 he applied for a patent and was successful.

Besides the patent at KIPI, WIPI also issued him with a utility model certificate and it is this that helped him attract funding for his project from the Kenya government.

Engineer Machuma says that his invention would come in handy in areas like Budalangi where the government is yet to find a permanent solution to perennial flooding menace. He also says that with his invention, people on Lamu island now have a chance to ride on a bike since there are no bicycles on their island.

The 67 years old Machuma holds a diploma in industrial electronics and has amerced over 40 years of industrial experience. 


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Kenya Engineer is the definitive publication of Engineers in East Africa & beyond and the official journal of the Institution of Engineers of Kenya. Kenya Engineer has been in publication since 1972.

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