The Lamu port soon begin tugging operations after the Kenya Ports Authority acquired a new tugboat Tuesday.
The newly acquired state of the art tugboat known as MV Pate Lamu was officially received by KPA chairman Gen. (Rtd) Joseph Kibwana and KPA acting Managing Director John Mwangemi at the Dockyard Jetty in Mombasa.
Addressing the media, Kibwana said that since the commissioning of the port last year by President Uhuru Kenyatta, they have been using equipment that had been transferred from the Port of Mombasa.
“With such an arrangement, we have also had to incur huge expenses from time to time whenever we ferry equipment from the Port of Mombasa to facilitate services such as pilotage and tugging,” said Kibwana.
The arrival of the 29 meters long tugboat with 85 tons Bollard Pull capacity from Turkey was marked with a harbor lap, salute and berthing at the Dockyard Jetty.
He said that it was gratifying to witness actualization of the Authority’s plans and efforts of kitting the Port of Lamu with its own equipment.
“The delivery of MV Pate is therefore a step in the right direction. The vessel’s capacity to handle port operations for all kinds and sizes of vessels safely, efficiently and effectively, gives us a sigh of relief. Her arrival is timely for the Port of Lamu,” Kibwana said.
The Azimuth Stern Drive (ASD) Tugboat was built by a Turkish company Med Marine in collaboration with the Kenya Shipyards Limited at a cost of Sh1.4 billion. It boasts of a bollard pull of 85 tons and a length overall of 29 meters.
The boat is also fitted with two Caterpillar main engine series CAT 3516C – HD, screw Rolls Royce propulsion system, modern winches, and firefighting system.
Kibwana said that the KPA board and management were cognizant of the importance of the Port of Lamu as a strategic facility in the region.
“Accordingly, the Board and Management have progressed plans to acquire more equipment in phases, parallel with the ongoing construction of the Port and its supportive infrastructure,” he added.
“For instance, besides this tugboat, we are expecting an additional three mobile harbor cranes to make a total of five for the port. We have also progressed plans to purchase three Ship to Shore Gantry cranes, three Rubber Tyred Gantry Cranes and four Terminal Tractors for the port,” he said.
Mr. Mwangemi said that the acquisition of the new tugboat was part of KPA’s development agenda grounded on a detailed strategic plan roadmap that guides the authority to anticipate emerging industry needs of the future based on maritime trade trends and market needs.
He said that KPA had embarked on robust equipping of the Lamu Port to maximize its operational capabilities.
“The delivery of MV Pate Tugboat is part of the Port of Lamu’s marine vessels fleet, which will exclusively offer tugging services for vessels calling the Port of Lamu,” said Mwangemi.
He said that initially, the Port of Lamu relied on the dispatch of tugs from the Port of Mombasa whenever a vessel called, contributing to high operational costs and time.
“The arrival of this tugboat is therefore a welcome relief as it would exclusively serve the Port of Lamu where it would be stationed permanently,” Mwangemi said.
He described MV Pate as having superior features adding that it was estimated that it would serve the port for a period of 20 years.
He added that KPA was also in the tendering process for the planned acquisition of a Pilot and Mooring boats to further streamline marine operations at the Port of Lamu.
“We now have a fleet of seven tugboats, four mooring and pilot boats, and a pollution control and security boat each. These developments give us confidence to be able to market our services globally,” he said.
Mwangemi also said that the Port of Mombasa recorded a steady rise in vessels with an overall length of more than 250 meters with a carrying capacity of 6000 TEUs in recent times and that a total of 1,635 vessels called at the Port last year.
He said that last week, KPA hosted a delegation from the Democratic Republic of Congo keen to understand the workings of the Northern Transport Corridor and specifically the port facilities of Mombasa, Interior Container Depots Nairobi and Naivasha.
“We have also revamped the Port of Kisumu which since its renovations in 2018, has recorded steady rise in cargo traffic to the neighboring Port Bell and Jinja in Uganda and Mwanza in Tanzania respectively,” he noted.
“With the planned commissioning of MV Uhuru II, we are optimistic that the volumes at the Port of Mombasa will increase markedly as a result. We are also looking to expand other small ports like Sio and Shimoni in Kwale,” said Mwangemi.
By Chari Suche