It’s all systems go as the newly built multi billion shillings Lamu seaport gears up for Thursday’s (today) launch of transshipment operations.
The newly built Port of Lamu code-named Lamu South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor will receive its maiden cargo vessel on May 20, 2021 when operations officially kick off at the mega port.
LAPSSET is a crucial Kenya Vision 2030 flagship project and is expected to transform regional economies through increased trade, integration and inter-connectivity spanning South Sudan and landlocked Ethiopia.
Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) acting Managing Director (MD) Eng. Rashid Salim says it’s a step closer to the new port’s vision of ‘becoming a regional transshipment hub for bulk business’.
Eng. Salim says larger container ships will be plying the country’s second commercial seaport developed by the China Communications Construction Company after the port of Mombasa.
He said KPA has already sent to Lamu crucial marine equipment for handling cargo transfers to ships, barges, and trucks as the new port prepares to handle international shipments.
Already crucial equipment like Rubber Tyred Gantries, ship-to-shore cranes, low load trailers, extension cargo handlers, tag boats, trailers, terminal tractors, forklifts, rail chains and channel buoys to be used at the new facility are already at port site.
“The new port has a huge potential for business since it sits right in the middle of major shipping routes for global trade” he said in an interview.
He said there would be no competition between Mombasa port and the brand new Lamu port since each will in the long run have its own trade routes to serve.
He said KPA is also making the Mombasa port to be more competitive by continually upgrading its infrastructure, constructing more storage facilities, enhancing security and improving the efficiencies of port operations to accommodate the increase in freight.
Eng. Salim said the soon-to-be unveiled grandiose port has the capabilities to handle post-panamax ships from the international shipping lines that ply the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea.
He said Lamu will be the focal point of a massive regional transshipment hub capable of accommodating goods being transported by sea, rail, land and air.
Close working relations
Eng. Salim says KPA is working closely with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and other relevant state agencies to work out modalities of offering incentives to shipping lines docking at the new facility.
“For example as KPA we assure investors targeting the new facility that we will be offering free storage period of over 30 days and tax rebates to woo shipping lines” he said.
Lamu Port general manager Eng. Abdullahi Samatar says the new port is expected to attract transshipment business from Ethiopia and South Sudan and beyond.
He said the strategic Lamu port when complete is supposed to have 32 deep sea berths fully financed by the taxpayer but disclosed that three berths are now ready for commissioning.
Eng. Samatar says Lamu port has the capacity to handle jumbo-sized ships with carrying capacity of between 12,000 to 18,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEUs) ships.
He said once the commissioning and testing operations of the new Lamu port is done KPA will send a high-level delegation to South Sudan and Ethiopia to market the ultra-modern state-of-the-art facility.
He contends that the three inaugural berths at the more sheltered Manda Bay are designed to handle 30,000 Deadweight Tonnage (DWT) and 100,000 DWT for general and bulk and container cargo respectively.
The new transport corridor seeks to link the modern port of Lamu with Garissa, Isiolo, Maralal, Lodwar and Lokichogio and branching at Isiolo to Moyale at the border with Ethiopia and proceeding to the border with South Sudan.