The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) is investing Sh2.7 billion in a massive handling equipment upgrade at the Lamu sea port.
KPA says the multi-billion-shilling investment programme at the Lamu Port code-named Lamu South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset), corridor seeks to increase capacity and improve operational efficiency.
LAPSSET is a crucial Kenya Vision 2030 flagship project and is expected to transform regional economies through increased trade, integration and inter-connectivity spanning South Sudan and landlocked Ethiopia and beyond.
In a bid to improve the efficiency of port operations, KPA is procuring a range of new equipment to better handle the increase in general and containerized cargo at the country’s second commercial seaport after the Port of Mombasa.
The marine equipment set for acquisition includes three mobile cranes, three ship-to-shore gantry cranes (STS), three rubber tyred gantry cranes and four terminal tractors.
The top-of-the range port equipment aims to continuously welcome large vessels, reduce the waiting time of ships in port, speed of operations and increase productivity.
KPA General Manager for Operations, Sudi Mwasinago, says the new equipment is expected to enhance the productivity and safety of port operations and reduce vessel turnaround times at the Lamu port.
Mwasinago said these acquisitions aim to ensure a sustainable and reliable service and continuously improve customer satisfaction, as well as increase handling capacity of container traffic.
“We expect the new equipment will help us improve our operational efficiency, productivity and meet the surging demand from clients,” he said.
Addressing journalists during a tour of port facilities in Mombasa and Nairobi, Mwasinago said the Lamu Port was expected to operate optimally after the completion of the road and rail infrastructure upgrade that will help in the evacuation of cargo.
He contended that the handling equipment modernization will in the long run increase the competitiveness of the Lamu port and allow it to handle higher tonnage vessels.
The KPA official added that lately the Authority has invested heavily on port expansion projects that have greatly improved efficiency and boosted capacity at the port of Mombasa.
He said, “The improved infrastructure projects have helped alleviate port congestion that have plagued businesses and enhanced container traffic at the port.”
Meanwhile, the evacuation of cargo by Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) has significantly contributed to the speedy import container deliveries from the port of Mombasa to the hinterland.
According to the Manager of the Inland Container Depot Nairobi (ICD) Paul Bor, the facility handled a total of 433,678 Twenty Foot Equivalent (TEUs) in 2021 compared to 393,152 during the previous year.
Bor attributed the improved performance to the facility’s spacious yard that can handle a container throughput of over 450,000 TEUs per annum making it ideal for shippers of both exports and imports.
“The ICD has decongested the port of Mombasa by reducing container dwell time and bringing services closer to our customers in the hinterland, “he said.
The unparalleled port investment by the government has allowed the port of Mombasa, the getaway to East and Central Africa, to strengthen its positions as the preferred trade destination in the region.
Maritime stakeholders contend that the investments would be able to push Mombasa to become a world-class port and encourage economic growth.
The port has embraced an electronic system which has so far enhanced time and cost of clearance of goods at the port.
By Mohamed Hassan