KPA lures shipping lines to Lamu despite poor infrastructure

The region is also prone to terror attacks with frequent IED explosions on the roads

In Summary

• KPA has extended a 30 days storage free period for transshipment and transit cargo and 14 days storage free period for domestic cargo.

• Kenya Long Distance Truck Drivers Association says its drivers are most likely to keep off Lamu port due to insecurity.

The ship which is drilling the LAPSSET corridor at Mkanda channel where ships will be passing to and from the port on October 23,2016./ALPHONCE GARI
The ship which is drilling the LAPSSET corridor at Mkanda channel where ships will be passing to and from the port on October 23,2016./ALPHONCE GARI

Kenya Ports Authority(KPA) has announced promotional tariffs for Lamu Port as it seeks to lure shippers and transporters to the facility, despite poor infrastructure and insecurity in the region.

The authority yesterday notified shipping lines,agents and the public that the first berth of the new Port of Lamu , which consists of 400 metres quay length and 14 metres draft , will be commissioned for operations on October 20, 2019.

The Lamu Port-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor(Lapsset) Authority announced completion of the berth on August 7, by the contractor China Communication Construction Company(CCCC).

“What remains is equipping of the berth. Transaction advisory services were procured to package the port for private sector entry to operate the port,” Lapsset authority told the Star.

Yesterday, KPA said the first berth will be used as a multi-purpose berth and will be capable of handling “any kind of vessel” especially the self-sustaining vessels.

“ Kenya Ports Authority has put in place plans to install three Ship to Shore(STS) gantries by the time the remaining two berths are ready for operations in October 2020,” KPA management said in a public notice.

To promote traffic into the new Port, KPA has extended a 30 days storage free period for transhipment 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 said, with the promotional tariff taking effect from October 1.

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.

The move to attract vessels to Lamu is however highly likely to backfire as insecurity and poor infrastructure continue to dampen investor appetite.

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. President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the Sh10.8 billion project in March 2017.

The region is also prone to terrorism with frequent Improvised Explosive Device(IED) attacks.

Terror hot spots include Milihoi, Mambo Sasa and Nyongoro. The contractor, H-Young company, has on several occasions admitted to be afraid of the areas, meaning the project is likely to drag past its completion timeline. It takes another 20-30 minutes to connect from the main road to Kililana area where the port is being built.

The Kenya Long Distance Truck Drivers Association has warned its drivers are most likely to keep off Lamu port.

“We dont 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 association's chairman Nicholas Mbugua told the Star on phone.

The government is counting on the yet to be constructed 530-kilometre highway from Lamu to Isiolo via Garissa to evacuate cargo from the port to South Sudan and southern Ethiopia, key partners in the Lapsset project.

The state is putting up the first three of the planned 32-berths at the port at an estimated cost of $689 million (Sh71.2 billion).