ATTRACTIVE INCENTIVES

State doubles efforts as first ship expected in Lamu port in two weeks

All the three berths will be ready by October

In Summary
  • National Treasury CS Ukur Yatani on Thursday expressed confidence they will have all the necessary systems in place to receive the ship.
  • Kenya Ships Agents Association chair Sylvester Kututa said shipping lines have pledged to use the port but would need incentives to inspire them more.
Treasury CS Ukur Yatani (centre) and other government officials at Berth 1 of the Lamu port on Thursday.
Treasury CS Ukur Yatani (centre) and other government officials at Berth 1 of the Lamu port on Thursday.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO

The government has announced it will give attractive incentives for users of the Lamu port, which is expected to receive its first ship on May 20.

The port, whose cost so far is Sh40 billion, will receive a Maersk Shipping Line vessel.

This means the government has less than two weeks to be ready to receive the ship, which is expected to dock at the already completed Berth 1.

Berth 2 is 90 per cent complete, while the third berth is at 70 per cent completion, according to the government.

National Treasury CS Ukur Yatani on Thursday expressed confidence they will have all the necessary systems in place to receive the ship.

“As a government, we are ready. The port is ready for business,” said Yatani.

He spoke during a meeting with stakeholders at the Lamu port.

The government incentives will include free storage for an initial 60 days, reduced charges for an introductory tariff and in the long term reduced fuel prices for transporters who will have to transport cargo from the county to other parts of the country.

However, the final details of the incentives will be discussed by an inter-agency standing committee comprising of the government agencies and the privates sector.

Speaking at the meeting, Maersk East Africa managing director Carl Lorenz said they will be the first ship to dock at the Lamu port but will not be bringing any client’s cargo.

He indicated they will be bringing their own equipment that will be stationed at the port.

“We want to work with the government to ensure the Lamu port is successful,” said Lorenz.

Yatani said the Lamu port will have all officers from all agencies dealing with it deployed to the facility and offices allocated to them by Wednesday next week.

The port will by May 30 have all the critical infrastructure, including an integrated ICT system, in place complete with all the basic equipment.

Already, the requisite equipment have started being transported from the Mombasa port to the Lamu port in batches.

May 15 will see the final batch of the basic equipment transported to the Lamu port.

The CS however called for close collaboration between the government and all port stakeholders to ensure the operationalisation of the port is successful.

“We expect turbulence and challenges for the first few days or months, but together we will overcome them,” said Yatani.

Kenya Ships Agents Association chair Sylvester Kututa said shipping lines have pledged to use the port but would need incentives to inspire them more.

He said ships work with good forecasting and incentives make it easier to cope with forecasted challenges.

“When giving incentives, make it more permanent to inspire confidence,” said Kututa.

Yatani said the government is thinking of giving a 60-day storage period but Kututa said there may be need for a longer period because this is the first time the port will be in operation.

“An introductory tariff is also key,” said Kututa.

Kenya Transporters Association CEO Dennis Ombok said Lamu is perceived to be a hostile area and thus there needs assurances about the safety of the cargo and the transporters.

“We are ready to come pick cargo here but we need to be sure of the safety of our people and our cargo,” said Ombok.

He noted that the difference in distance between Lamu-Mombasa and Lamu-Nairobi is about 200km and the government needs to ensure the extra distance does not hurt the importers or the transporters.

“We thus request that the government reduces taxes on petroleum so that the fuel prices come down,” Ombok said.

Lamu county commissioner Irungu Macharia assured the stakeholders of the safety of the place, the cargo and their lives in and around the county.

“We have done everything to ensure the safety of your cargo and your lives during transportation,” said Macharia.

Yatani said the Lamu-Garsen road, which will be key in transportation of cargo is almost complete, with only a stretch of less than 4km yet to be tarmacked.

He said there will be standing inter-agency committee made of government agencies and the private sector that has been formed and will be sitting regularly to look into the issues raised by stakeholders.

The CS will be back in Lamu before May 20 to assess the preparedness for the D-Day.

-Edited by SKanyara

Berth 2 of the Lamu port under construction.
ALMOST COMPLETE Berth 2 of the Lamu port under construction.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO
The complete Berth 1 of the Lamu port.
COMPLETE The complete Berth 1 of the Lamu port.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO