KPA to spend about Ksh 4 billion to fully operationalize Lamu Port

Monday, July 19th, 2021 18:52 |
CMA CGM vessel MV Spirit of Dubai at the Port of Lamu
CMA CGM vessel MV Spirit of Dubai at the Port of Lamu

Kenya Ports Authority will invest an estimated Ksh 4 billion on modern equipment to make the three berths at the Lamu Port fully operational by April 2022.

Speaking during the maiden call for CMA CGM vessel MV Spirit of Dubai at the Port of Lamu on Monday, acting KPA Managing Director Ambassador John Mwangemi noted already the new facility has been installed with yard operations equipment, with Harbour Mobile Cranes and ICT infrastructure.

"We also have deployed multi-skilled staff to ensure smooth operations. We also are committed to bringing in Ship to Shore Gantry cranes in order to fully kit these three berths," Mwangemi said while calling upon other shipping lines to introduce services to the Port of Lamu.

"We are confident that the two other berths will be operationalized before the end of this year."

KPA Marine Pilot Captain Geoffrey Namadoa who is directly involved in the operationalisation of Lamu Port says at the moment the Authority is in the process of equipping the country's second commercial port with a range of modern technology equipment to make it fully functional at attracting more Maritime business.

According to Namadoa, for the three berths to become fully operational, they will require at least three Ship to Shore Gantry cranes, five harbour mobile cranes, eight rubber-tired gantry cranes and about 18 terminal tractors.

"If we equip this facility with this equipment, then it means it will be in a position to operate like any modern harbour in the world. So we are working to ensure we have the equipment by March next year," he explained.

He said a single ship to shore crane costs about Ksh 1.2 billion while a harbour mobile crane costs about Ksh 600 million. A rubber gantry crane costs Ksh 120 million.

Mwangemi who graced his first major event in his capacity as the acting KPA boss observed that the handling of the first transhipment business at Port of Lamu will inspire confidence and help raise the profile of the Port of Lamu on the global map.

" For us at KPA and the larger Kenya, the dream of spearheading transhipment business has now become a reality at this Port which was operationalized by President Uhuru Kenyatta, two months ago."

"Last week on Thursday, 15th July 2021, Lamu received the first commercial ship MV Amu 1, owned by a local shipping company, Lamu Shipping Limited. Now with the arrival of MV Spirit of Dubai in less than a week’s time, your presence will surely inspire confidence and help raise the profile of the Port of Lamu on the global map," the new MD said.

In another historic moment, CMA CGM vessel MV Spirit of Dubai which left the Port of Mombasa on Sunday past midnight, made the maiden call to Lamu Port Monday morning to ship the first transhipment consignment of 62 containers of agricultural products from Lamu to the Jeddah Islamic Port in Saudi Arabia.

The KPA Chief hailed CMA CGM, as one of the top shipping lines that call at the Port of Mombasa with big cargo volumes.

"Their presence is significant, based on the statistics in our possession for the Port of Mombasa, we can only hope that the same will soon be replicated and possibly exceeded at this new Port," he said.

CMA CGM Deputy General Manager in charge of East Africa Daniel Sepetu the shipping lines decision to call at the Port of Lamu as the first transhipment vessel to evacuate cargo from the new port followed weeks of intense testing of ICT systems and equipment and the entire process.

This he said is after a one on one meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta two months ago where the shipping line committed to venture into the new port for transhipment business.

"it's not just about bringing the ship here. We tested and checked the ICT system and the equipment which involved a lot of calls…eventually we were convinced that it was workable and that's why we are here today. All I want is to encourage others to use this facility," Sepetu said.

According to the MD, in the year 2020, CMA-CGM handled a total of 171,311 TEUs in and out of the Port of Mombasa up from 120,810 TEUs handled in 2019, representing 12.6 per cent of the total volume handled by the Port in 2020.

The above, he noted accounted for the third-highest volume by shipping lines last year up from the fifth position despite the global transport and supply chain disruptions occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic.

He said will continue making deliberate efforts to enhance the maritime sector in collaboration with all stakeholders, industry players and development partners.

Mwangemi announced that there was a remarkable growth in the period January to June 2021, where he said the Port of Mombasa handled 18.333 million tons in cargo throughput against 16.394 million tons registered in the corresponding period in 2020 representing a notable growth of 11.8 per cent.

The above performance also surpassed the forecasted target by 0.5 per cent.

During the same period, total containers registered a 15.3 per cent increase to record 754,148 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in 2021 up from 654,054 TEUs registered in a similar period in 2020.

The incoming MD also announced that Transshipment traffic grew by a remarkable 55.9 per cent to record 125,141 TEUs compared to 80,278 TEUs witnessed in 2020.

"However, during the period under review, there was a decline in terms of transit traffic, which dropped by 5.4 per cent, having registered 4.73 million tons in 2021 against 5 million tons recorded in 2020. The negative performance is attributed to the decreased handling of cargo for Uganda and Rwanda by 208,811 tons or 5.5 per cent and 119,702 tons or 57.4 per cent, respectively."

In the case of Uganda, he said this was attributed to the general elections held in the country, the resurgence of COVID-19 in the region and the resultant economic lockdowns in both Uganda and Rwanda.

"The reduction in the regional economic activity is projected to continue into the next quarter of the year. However, we look forward to increased business volumes in the remaining half of the calendar year," Mwangemi concluded.

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