Lamu seaport set for Thursday’s launch of transshipment operations

Lamu seaport set for Thursday’s 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.

LAPSSET is a crucial Kenya Vision 2030 flagship project and is expected to transform the regional economies through increased trade, integration and interconnectivity, spanning South Sudan and landlocked Ethiopia.

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Acting Managing Director (MD), Eng. Rashid Salim, said it’s a step closer to the new port’s vision of ‘becoming a regional transshipment hub for bulk business’.

Larger container ships will be plying the country’s second commercial seaport constructed by the China Communications Construction Company.

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,” said Salim in an interview.

“there would be no competition between Mombasa Port and the new Lamu Port since each will, in the long run, have its own trade routes to serve,” he added.

The MD 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.

Multibillion shilling Lamu Seaport set for launch

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.

After the launch, Lamu will be the focal point of a massive regional transshipment hub capable of accommodating goods being transported by sea, rail, land and air.

KPA boss said the authority 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.

When complete, the port will have 32 deep sea berths fully financed by the taxpayer, disclosing that three berths are now ready for commissioning.

It 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 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 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.

The Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) Chairman, Omudho Awitta, noted that the historic town of Lamu is set to experience a huge expansion as massive infrastructural development is in place thanks to the unveiling of the multibillion shilling mega port project.

Chairman Awitta said the LAPSSET transport project, as the Lamu Port is known, will encompass the construction of an oil refinery, a railway line joining the resort cities of Lamu, Isiolo and Turkana.

He says massive development of tourist hotels, stores, international airport, oil refinery depots and a standard gauge railway line are all set to sprout in Lamu, transforming the fortunes of the island dwellers.

“As KRC we have already constructed marshaling yards for trucks evacuating general cargo within the new port precincts” he said.

He said KRC has developed a blueprint for a new railing line that will connect Lamu to the hinterland with the objective to handle more cargo by rail and relieve congestion at the new facility, “so that cargo can be more efficiently sent further inland,” Awitta added.

Story by KNA’s Hussein Abdullahi

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