MARITIME

Boost for Lamu Port as shippers tour project

KPA has managed to convince more than 10 shipping lines to visit the port ahead of commissioning.

In Summary

•World’s largest container shipping company―Maersk has already confirmed one of its vessels will be calling at the Lamu.

•KPA has extended promotional tariffs to shippers, traders and the business community who will bring their cargo through Lamu.

An aerial view of the ongoing construction of Lamu Port/KPA
An aerial view of the ongoing construction of Lamu Port/KPA

Operationalization of Lamu Port is slowly coming to fruition after shipping lines agreed to visit the facility this week, ahead of the first berth's launch.

KPA has managed to convince more than 10 shipping lines to visit the port in a marketing strategy aimed at attracting vessels to Lamu, which is expected to be commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta later this month.

The Wednesday visit which also includes security organs, transporters and businessmen is a a further boost to the Sh2.5 trillion Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) Corridor project which is slowly taking shape.

“We are taking the shipping lines to Lamu to see and appreciate the facility and infrastructure that is being put in place ahead of commissioning,” KPAgeneral manager corporate services Edward  Kamau told the Star on telephone.

“We also want them to understand what is expected of them once we commence operations at the new port,” Kamau added, with Lamu expected to attract even larger vessels owing to the channel's natural depth.

World’s largest container shipping company―Maersk has already confirmed one of its vessels(the first) will be calling at the new port.

“They(Maersk) have assured us they will bring a vessel to Lamu which we expect during the commissioning or later on, but they have committed,” Kamau said in an exclusive interview.

KPA is also courting other shipping lines to use the new facility whose berth one is complete.

“Some vessels have shown interest to come and use Lamu for Ethiopia destined cargo,” KPA managing director Daniel Manduku told the Star, “We continue talking to more shipping lines.”

Meanwhile, the authority is aggressively marketing the port through promotional tariffs which it has extended to shippers, traders and the business community who will bring their cargo through Lamu.

These includes a 30 days storage free period for transshipment and transit cargo, 14 days storage free 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.Coasters carrying transshipment cargo from Lamu to Mombasa shall be offered a 40 per cent discount on the cargo handling charges,” the management notes.

KPA charges between $5.50(Sh568) and $13(Sh1,342) per gross tonnage on light dues and port dues subject to a minimum of $150(Sh15,495).Vessels on quays or jetty part with $0.26(Sh26) per meter per hour.

Manduku is keen to build Lamu Port as a transshipment hub.Transshipment is the shipment of goods or containers to an intermediate destination, then to another destination.One possible reason for transshipment is to change the means of transport during the journey.

“We are going to promote Lamu as a transshipment port,” Manduku told the Star, with Zanzibar among targeted destinations.

To support the port, the government is tarmacking the 135 kilometre Lamu-Garsen road, the main road connecting Lamu to the rest of the coastal region and other parts of Kenya.

This is one of the main infrastructure in the Lapsset corridor which is planned to have roads, resort towns, rail and pipeline connecting the 32-berth port to Ethiopia, South Sudan and the region.

The government is constructing the first three berths with the rest being fronted to developers and financiers.

During the Kenya-Ethiopia Trade and Investment Forum in Addis Ababa, on March 1, 2019, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed renewed their commitment to implement joint infrastructure projects as key enablers of the two economies, with Lapsset being one of them.