Slow road construction to Lamu likely to delay full usage of port


Construction workers at the second berth of Lamu port in August. The first berth has been completed. Full usage of the port’s berths remains doubtful without a good road connecting to the interior. -FILE

The delay in the construction of highway infrastructure to feed and evacuate cargo from the new Lamu Port, which is far from ready, might delay the commissioning of the second Kenyan port.

The progress of the construction of the 135-kilometre Lamu-Garsen road, which was awarded to H-Young Contractors in 2016, has been slow with President Uhuru Kenyatta recently making an abrupt visit and insisting on the completion of the road before the launch of the port.

During the awarding of the Sh10.4 billion tender, the contractor requested for security prompting the government to deploy Kenya Defense Forces and a special police unit to provide a safe environment for the workers.

The delay of the road — with Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) completing a Sh48 billion dockside project at the port of Lamu in Kililani — has exposed a mismatch of project planning and implementation.

The KPA intends to use the first berth for transshipment until 2022 when rail and road infrastructure is set to be fully completed to haul cargo to neighbouring countries.

KPA head of container operations Edward Opiyo in an earlier statement said they intend to use Lamu Port for transshipment due to lack of laid-down infrastructure.

“We expect to officially launch the first Lamu Port berth this year but it will for transshipment and we expect to add the number of the transshipment cargo and ultimate profits of KPA,” said Mr Opiyo.

He added, “KPA shall increase its profit if transshipment increases since we earn double fees per cargo unlike transit.”

Lamu Port, which is under the ambitious Sh2.5 trillion Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor project once it starts its operations, will host first mother ship with close to 10,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs).

The Lapsset corridor project was intended to link Lamu Port to South Sudan via a Lamu-Garissa-Isiolo-Lokichar-Juba highway and to southern parts of Ethiopia via the Isiolo-Moyale road which is already in place. For sustainable business at the new Lamu port the westward-bound highway need to be constructed to make Lamu port more viable.

The constructions of bollard mounting (a vital component in a berth for anchoring ships) has been completed for the first berth as two other berths are set to be completed early next year.

In KPA’s 2018-2047 Master Plan, the authority targets to trade more with Dar Salaam Port and Djibouti Port by investing more in Lamu Port which can host a super post-Panamax vessel due to its wide berths.

The Master Plan recommends a number of guidelines to make the port more attractive to investors and improve its efficiency which include setting up sales and marketing organisations to conduct marketing to attract more ships, setting up water security strategy considering its proximity to Somalia.

The planned launch of the Port next week has since been postponed till next month with promotional tarrifs place by KPA in August to entice shipper to unse the facility still stands.

In the advertisement, shipping lines and agents have been offered free 30-day storage period for transshipment and transit cargo compared to the current 14 days in the Mombasa Port.

Domestic cargo has been offered 14-days storage free period while cargo-based charges were slashed by 40 per cent as outlined in Section II and III of the KPA Tarriff 2012.

Coasters carrying transshipment cargo from Lamu to Mombasa will be offered a 40 per cent discount on the cargo handling charges while light dues, port and harbour dues shall be charged once at the first port call in the country, either Lamu or Mombasa.

The promotional tariff is targeting to boost its transship ment business with other east and central African countries.

In the public notice issued by KPA managing director Daniel Manduku, the first berth that consists of 400-metre quay length and 14-metre draft had already been completed and it would be used as a multi-purpose berth.