•To date, slightly above 20 ships have docked at Kenya’s second major seaport, which the government is targeting to make it a transshipment hub.
•This is below what Mombasa can receive in a week when business is good, making it hugely underutilised.
Shipping lines and traders using Lamu Port will enjoy special tariffs until May 2024 as part of Kenya Ports Authority's strategy to market the new harbour.
This is in the wake of the low number of ships and cargo being handled at the facility, since its commissioning by former President Uhuru Kenyatta, in May 2021.
To date, just above 20 ships have docked at Kenya’s second major seaport, which the government is targeting to make it a transshipment hub.
This is below what Mombasa receives in a week when business is good, making it hugely underutilised.
Insecurity along the corridor is one of the major concerns by truckers who are reluctant to pick cargo from Lamu.
Majority continue to prefer the Port of Mombasa which serves the Northern Corridor into the East African region.
Lamu-Garsen-Garissa-Isiolo route, the latest transport corridor in the country, is envisioned to connect Kenya to Ethiopia.
South Sudan is another partner in the Sh 2.5 trillion Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor project.
“Security has been an issue along that corridor. The association insists its members must be safe,” Kenya Long Distance Truck Drivers Association chairman, Nicholas Mbugua, told the Star on phone.
To attract vessels and traders, KPA has extended special tariffs even as continues to invest in cargo handling equipment at the three operational berths of 1,200 metres quay length each, and an annual container capacity of 1.2 million TEUs.
“To promote the port as a transhipment hub, transhipment containers will now enjoy an extended storage free period of 60 days,” KPA managing director, captain William Ruto, said in a notice.
The authority also has a number of specific incentives offered for the new port’s marine and cargo services rendered to vessels and cargo, respectively.
They include a 50 per cent discount on international trading vessels, charged on the Gross Tonnage (GT), based dues (pilotage, tug service, mooring) while car carriers and passenger vessels making a call at the Port of Lamu, only during a voyage, shall be charged 50 per cent of the GT.
Loading or discharging of cargo shall be offered a 40 per cent discount on cargo handling charges as outlined in KPA tariff.
Coasters carrying cargo from Lamu to Mombasa and vice versa shall also be offered a 40 per cent discount on the cargo handling charges.
Coasters are defined as vessels involved in the transport of cargo between ports along the country’s coast.
Other discounts are in shore handling and wharfage services, domestic and transit cargo storage, among others, which make Lamu a cheaper facility for international trade.
In June, KPA purchased five Harbor Mobile Cranes-HMCs worth over Sh3.7 billion for Lamu and Mombasa, in a move aimed at improving operational efficiency at the two ports.
“As we endeavour to fully operationalise the facility through equipment acquisition and development of inland connectivity, KPA wishes to inform stakeholders that the validity period of the promotional tariff has been extended for a period of one year to May 20, 2024," Ruto said.
During his recent our of the Coast region, President William Ruto announced several initiatives to streamline efficiency of the Port of Mombasa and other facilities.
The President directed that all critical government agencies that play a key role in the cargo clearance processes at the port, including Kenya Bureau of Standards, Kenya Revenue Authority, National Transport and Safety Authority to operate 24/7 to complement port services.
Equally private entities like financial institutions that are a crucial link to the process chain have also been urged to comply and ensure that customers are able to access services round the clock.
Going forward, cargo destined for the transit markets will only be weighed twice; at the point of entry, port, Mariakani and the point of exit at the Malaba border.
To make Lamu more accessible, the Transport ministry is overseeing over 50km of construction works on the Lamu-Ijara -Garissa road as part of the LAPSSET corridor.
Ethiopia and South Sudan have in recent months renewed commitment in making the corridor work.