• First three berths are being developed by China Communication Construction Company for Sh71.2 billion.
• World’s largest container shipping company — Maersk — is expected to become the first to have its vessel call at the new port.
The first phase of Lamu Port is 75 per cent complete and the first berth is expected to become operational this month.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to open the first berth anytime this month, the Kenya Ports Authority management said. The first Maersk container ship is expected to dock at that time.
The Lamu Port-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) Development Authority confirmed that the second and third berths are 57 per cent complete. It announced the completion of the first berth on August 6.
“The government is on schedule for the delivery of the remaining two berths by December 2020,” Lapsset director general and CEO Silvester Kasuku told the Star on Thursday.
Lamu Port is likely to meet government timelines of having the first three berths complete by next year's fourth quarter.
Meantime, it seeks funding and investment partners for the remaining 29 of the proposed 32-berth port facility.
The first three berths are being developed by China Communication Construction Company for Sh71.2 billion.
The Treasury has allocated Sh11 billion for Lapsset in this financial year.
“Impressive progress has been achieved,” Kasuku said in an interview. He expressed confidence in Lamu becoming a game-changer for the country’s transport and logistics sector.
The world’s largest container shipping company–Maersk–is expected to become the first to have its vessel call at the new port, which is Kenya’s second major seaport after Mombasa.
KPA has revealed that the Danish business conglomerate with activities in the transport, logistics and energy sectors — popularly known as Maersk A/S —has committed a vessel to Lamu.
“We are preparing to move equipment to support operations at the first berth which is ready,” KPA Corporate Services general manager Edward Kamau told the Star.
The authority is luring shippers, importers, exporters and the regional markets, mainly Ethiopia, to use Lamu Port.
Last month, more than 20 shipping lines endorsed the facility during a tour of Lamu and its environs.
KPA continues to market promotional tariffs to potential users of the port. These include a free 30-day storage period for transhipment and transit cargo, 14 days free storage for domestic cargo and a 40 per cent discount for cargo-based charges.
The government, through Kenya National Highways Authority, is also developing the region’s road network.
The major focus is on the 530-kilometre highway from Lamu to Isiolo via Garissa, the main cargo evacuation route from the port to South Sudan and southern Ethiopia. The two nations are key partners in the Sh2.5 trillion Lapsset project launched during President Mwai Kibaki's administration in 2012.
“Infrastructure is in place to ensure smooth transportation for both domestic and transit cargo,” Kasuku said. “We have an immediate off-take road for Lamu Port.”
Once operational, Lamu Port is expected to open up a new corridor connecting lower coastal Kenya and the northern region to the Ethiopian market and beyond.
Major port and logistic activities are currently concentrated on the Northern Corridor, which runs from the Port of Mombasa to Uganda and the hinterland.
Edited by R.Wamochie