•This brings to three the total number of berths as government marks the completion of the first phase of the construction.
•It has invested about Sh40 billion in the project developed by China Communication Construction Company (CCCC).
Operations at Kenya's new Lamu Port has been enhanced following the completion of two more berths , increasing the facility's vessel handling capacity.
This brings to three the total number of berths, marking the completion of the first phase, that cost about Sh40 billion in a project developed by China Communication Construction Company (CCCC).
Construction begun in 2016.
“The first three berths and yards at the Port of Lamu are now complete with plans to begin operations at berth two and three next year. KPA is acquiring modern equipment including three mobile harbour cranes and a ship to shore gantry cranes to complement operations at the Port,” management said.
Speaking to the Star on telephone yesterday, principal communication officer Hajj Masemo said the completion now puts the total length at 1.5 kilometres, with the facility now able to berth three ships at a go.
“It has increased capacity which means an opportunity for more business,” Masemo said.
Since its inauguration, Lamu which is part of the Sh2.5 trillion Lamu Port-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor has so far handled 9 vessels cumulatively and a total of 1,619 TEUs.
Majority have arrived with transhipment cargo, which if offloaded then loaded to other ships for shipment to final destinations.
Completion of the first three berths now sends the government back to the drawing board to seek investors for the completion of the remaining 20 of the planned 23-berth port facility.
According to maritime players, Lamu stands to become a transhipment hub owing to its capacity to handle ships with a carrying capacity of up to 12,000 TEUs, compared to the 8,000 to 10,000 TEUs carrying capacity vessels that are calling at the Port of Mombasa.
Lamu can handle large vessels that cannot pass through the Panama Canal.
Its natural depth and proximity to the open sea makes it potential for transshipment as it will attract lager vessels that cannot dock at Mombasa, according to the Shippers Council of Eastern Africa (SCEA).
“Kenya can become a major player for transshipment and maritime trade. The government should give space to shipping lines to put up berths. This way, they will guarantee business,”chief executive Gilbert Lang'at told the Star.
The government is also keen to make Lamu the main import point for used cars.
The facility is also expected to play a significant role in creation of direct and indirect job opportunities.
“ The port is expected to attract larger cargo ships and if run efficiently will also provide direct benefits within the region by passing on savings derived from lower marine costs due to faster ship turnaround time and at the same time of reducing the cost of doing business,” KPA said.
The new access and links with neighbouring countries created by the LAPSSET corridor will also foster regional economic development and growth through trade facilitation.
This will in turn lead to further creation of substantial job opportunities and increased income in the area of value addition especially on processing of agricultural products and cash-crop exports, KPA adds.
The alternative destinations created by development of Resort Cities in Lamu, Isiolo and Turkana are further expected to increase international tourist arrivals and push up the foreign exchange earnings.
“The opening of the Northern part of Kenya will not only pave way for exploiting the existing natural resources like oil and coal, but will also encourage the exploration of new finds,” KPA management says.
It is expected that the port of Lamu would attract some of the cargo which would traditionally pass through the ports of Sudan, Djibouti and Mombasa.
The traffic forecast for this corridor predicts that in that inclusive of demand from both South Sudan and Ethiopia, the Lamu traffic is expected to reach 23.9 million tonnes by 2030.