• The port is part of the expansive Sh2.5 trillion lapsset corridor expected to connect the country to Ethiopia and South Sudan.
• KPA has extended promotional tariffs to shippers and transporters.
Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has embarked on an aggressive marketing of the new Lamu Port set for commissioning next month.
The authority has lined up a number of site visits for shipping lines, transporters and port stakeholders (including importers and exporters).
At the Nairobi business community annual luncheon yesterday, KPA marketed the new port, even as expansion and improvement of cargo handling at the Port of Mombasa continues.
“The official launch of the first berth of Lamu Port is set for October this year. We are inviting all of you to tour this facility and encourage shipping lines to start using this port which will open up more trade opportunities,” KPA managing director Daniel Manduku said.
The port has a natural draft of over 17 meters capable of accommodating the increasingly huge vessels.
The Lamu-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET) development authority, on August 6, announced the first berth at the planned 32–berth port facility was 100 per cent complete.
The government is putting up the first three of the planned 32-berths at the port at an estimated cost of Sh71.2 billion, with the rest (29) being extended to financiers and private sector for development.
The contractor China Communication Construction Company(CCCC) has embarked on development of the remaining two berths, which according to Transport CS James Macharia, will be completed by end of next year.
"We are upbeat that the expansiveness of the Port of Lamu will attract more cargo volumes to the region and increase Kenya’s competitiveness in the maritime transport,” Macharia said at the function.
To lure shippers, it has extended promotional tariffs to shippers and transporters.
These include a 30 days free storage period for transhipment and transit cargo, 14 days free storage period for domestic cargo and a 40 per cent discount for cargo-based charges as per the KPA tariff.
“Light dues, port and harbour dues shall be charged once at the first port of call in the country, at either Lamu or Mombasa," said Manduku.
Coasters carrying transshipment cargo from Lamu to Mombasa shall be offered a 40 per cent discount on the cargo handling charges.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to launch the facility next month.
Uhuru who was in Lamu on September 8, expressed satisfaction with the progress of the ongoing construction works at the seaport, saying the mega project will create the much needed jobs for Kenyan youth.
"Since I was here last year, it is true you've worked hard. Very soon, next month, we will be here to open the first berth which I am told you will have completed," the President announced.
The first ship is expected to berth at the port on October 20.
The launch of the facility however comes amid security and infrastructure concerns.
Transports have expressed concerns over their security in the terror stricken Lamu region.
“We don't think our drivers will agree to use that road and even if they do, we will have a lot of issues. We are afraid there will be frequent attacks and loss of cargo,” the Kenya Long Distance Truck Drivers Association chairman Nicholas Mbugua told the Star on phone.
Over 90 per cent of the 135 kilometre Lamu-Garsen road, the main road connecting Lamu to the rest of the coastal region and other parts of Kenya, remains un tarmacked.
Shippers are also said to be reluctant to switch operations from the Port of Mombasa to Lamu.