In a strategic move to boost port traffic and attract investors to use the Lamu Port, the Kenya Ports Authority has unveiled a series of comprehensive incentives combined with tightened security measures, drawing significant attention from businesses along the country’s Northern Corridor.
Kenya Ports Authority Managing Director, William Ruto, revealed in an exclusive interview with KNA that there has been increased interest among logistics investors, both foreign and local, expecting to use the Lamu Port due to the incentives being offered as well as the near completion of the Lamu-Garissa-Nairobi Road, which currently stands at 86 per cent complete.
“It is only a small road portion within the Bura area that is still not tarmacked, but all indications from the national government are that the whole stretch of the Northern Corridor road will be complete soon, with only 14 per cent remaining untarmacked,” Captain William Ruto stated, adding that once complete, the road will be a much-needed incentive for logistics companies seeking to use the Lamu Port.
Captain Wiliam Ruto further stated that KPA had made the decision to extend promotional tariffs to shippers and transporters, which include a 30-day free storage period for transshipment and transit cargo, a 14-day free storage period for domestic cargo, and a 40 per cent discount for cargo-based charges as per the KPA tariff.
He further said that shippers undertaking the transshipment of cargo from Lamu to Mombasa shall also be offered a 40 per cent discount on the cargo handling charges.
“It is worth noting that last month’s unloading of relief cargo of approximately 1,500 tonnes that was brought by the World Food Programme was undertaken within a remarkable four-day turnaround time,” he stated.
The KPA MD further noted that the unloading of that relief cargo at the Lamu Port led to the creation of an additional 600 casual jobs, which he noted had a positive impact on the local economy.
Ruto further acknowledged that the government, through its security agencies, has gone to great lengths to ensure the security of the two main roads serving the Lamu Port in a bid to ensure its viability.
“For now, port traffic at the Lamu Port has largely been transshipment of cargo, but we expect more inland transfer of cargo with the maiden unloading of the WFP relief cargo last month,” he said.
So far, Lamu Port has had at least 44 ships dock at the port, with the main business being the transshipment of cargo.
He further revealed that Ethiopia has shown keen interest in ensuring the viability of Lamu Port, which he stated presents a crucial element in their southern logistics chain.
“The port’s potential has been widely marketed, and there is a lot of political goodwill both from the national and county governments in ensuring that the Lamu Port is able to create jobs for locals,” he said.
He further conceded that this attention is expected to drive a boom in tourism, benefiting not only Lamu but also the surrounding region.
“Lamu Port will soon witness the arrival of a passenger ship in November, further boosting its appeal by enhancing cruise tourism,” Captain Ruto revealed.
Ruto, however, maintained that the Lamu Port is being heavily marketed, as is evident with the export of livestock to Oman through the Lamu Port.
LAPSSET Regional Manager Salim Bunu additionally stated that Lamu Port’s status as a draught port and the establishment of a Special Economic Zone, coupled with plans to build an industrial park, are expected to attract investors seeking to capitalise on the region’s abundant and affordable labour force.
“Tax rebates, spanning a generous five-year period, further sweeten the deal for potential investors and shippers seeking to use the Lamu Port,” Bunu said.
“The Lamu-Garissa-Nairobi Road and the incentives provided by Lamu Port are essential components of our nation’s economic growth. We are witnessing a surge in interest and investment, underscoring the tremendous potential this region holds.” KPA General Manager Vincent Sidai said.
He further revealed that several multinational companies and organisations have shown interest in investing in the multibillion-shilling Lamu Port, adding that Lamu Port is poised to complement the Mombasa Port by expanding into new and emerging markets such as Ethiopia and South Sudan.
On his part, Lamu County Commissioner Louis Rono stated that the national government is committed to ensuring the Lamu Port remains viable by ensuring adequate security is provided for investors to use the Lamu Port and allowing truckers to ply Lamu roads.
“Expectations are high among locals and investors seeking opportunities from the Lamu Port, and the national government, through its security agencies, is working hard to ensure the right environment thrives for Lamu to grow into a regional logistics hub of repute,” Rono said.
By Amenya Ochieng