Lamu Port equipment, operations delay on Covid-19 disruption

The equipment is being sourced mainly from international markets.

In Summary

•It includes Rubber-Tyred Gantry cranes (RTGs), terminal tractors, forklifts and  reach stackers for container handling.

•Construction of the first three berths of the planned 32-berth Lamu Port has been completed at a cost of Sh71.2 billion.

Workers on site at the Lamu Port/
PORT: Workers on site at the Lamu Port/

The manufacturing and delivering of equipment for Lamu Port has been derailed by Covid-19, Kenya Ports Authority has confirmed, among reasons the facility is yet to be commissioned.

The equipment being sourced mainly from international markets (manufacturers) include Rubber-Tyred Gantry cranes (RTGs), terminal tractors, forklifts and  reach stackers(for container handling) and pilot boats, tag boats and mooring equipment( for handling of vessels).

The authority had in July called for supply of three-six tonne and two-five tonne forklifts. KPA is also installing navigation aid at the port.


Construction of the first three berths of the planned 32-berth Lamu Port, has been completed at a cost of Sh71.2 billion, having been developed by China Communication Construction Company (CCCC).

“It (the port) is yet to be equipped but the process is on. Things slowed down, including procurement, because of the Covid-19 pandemic,” KPA head of corporate affairs Bernard Osero told The Star in a telephone interview.

KPA has however expressed confidence the processes and delivery of equipment at the facility will be concluded soon, to pave way for commissioning and operationalization of the country’s second major seaport after Mombasa.

The major players in the port equipment market include Liebherr (Switzerland), TTS (Norway), Kalmar (Finland), Konecranes (Finland), Sany (China) and Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries (ZPMC) (China).

Others are Hyster (US), Lonking (China), CVS Ferrari (Italy), Anhui Heli (China), and Famur Famak (Poland), among others.

The government has put up the first three berths with the rest (29) being extended to financiers and private sector for development.

The natural deep-sea port is part of the Sh2.5 trillion Lamu-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET) project  launched on March 2, 2012 by the then Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, and South Sudan's President Salva Kiir.

In July, Lapsset Corridor Development Authority director general and CEO Silvester Kasuku said the contractor was finalizing on container yards for the last two berths.

“We want to officially announce construction of the second and third berths is done. We are working on the yards and then we shall be ready to launch,” Kasuku said.

To ensure works continued during the pandemic, all workers, about 2,000 were place under lockdown within the site.

Equipping of the facility will pave way for operationalization of the port, which KPA is keen to transform into a transshipment hub.

To lure shippers, the authority has extended promotional tariffs to shipping companies and 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,” management told the Star.

Coasters carrying transshipment cargo from Lamu to Mombasa shall be offered a 40 per cent discount on the cargo handling charges.

World’s largest container shipping company―Maersk is among those that are eyeing Lamu Port, a boost to the facility which is slowly getting international maritime players attention.

Known as Mærsk A/S, the Danish business conglomerate with activities in the transport, logistics and energy sectors, is ready to call at the new port facility, KPA confirmed recently.

It is expected to connect Lamu to over 300 ports globally.

The first berth was to have been commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta in November last year but the event was postponed.

The first three berths will present a strong case for private sector involvement in constructing the remaining 29 berths and other components of the corridor, including the Special Economic Zone.

"The Special Economic Zone already has been gazetted in the Lamu Port City,” Kasuku said.

Kenya is counting on the LAPSSET corridor to open up trade with her Northern neighbours, mainly Ethiopia and South Sudan.

Other projects planned along the corridor include transportation hubs for rail, highway and international airports in Lamu, Isiolo and Lodwar, an oil pipeline from South Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia to Lamu Port, an oil refinery and three resort cities in Isiolo, Lamu and Turkana.