The National Treasury and Planning Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani has assured potential investors among them shipping lines and logistics companies, that the Lamu Port is open for business from May 20th this year.
Speaking in at the Kililana Port site in Lamu, the Treasury chief told operators of shipping lines and logistics heads drawn from Mombasa that it’s all systems go after the first berth is fully complete to handle interim port operations before the other three berths are completed in October.
“The Lamu Port has one berth that is fully complete and ready to handle logistical needs for the Northern corridor, while the second berth and the third berth are at 95 percent and 75 percent complete respectively but the remaining construction works will be cleared by June,” Yatani stated.
He further revealed that outstanding payments owed to the Chinese Communication Construction Company (CCCC) have been made to ensure that port works do not stall ahead of the scheduled commissioning later in the year.
The Lamu Port Project since last month had owed the CCCC an outstanding payment of Kshs 5.8 billion, which senior KPA chiefs had feared if not paid up would lead to the contractor demobilizing thus disrupting port completion works.
“The national government is committed to ensuring the LAPSSET project is a success since it is one of the flagship projects that will open up the Northern Corridor,” he added.
He stated that the Lamu Port project has come a long way as a Vision 2030 project that holds the key to opening up previously marginalized areas.
“All systems and procedures are being put in place with the Kenya Revenue Authority Kenya Bureau of Standards and Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS) have already deployed staff in readiness for May 20th when Port operations at the Lamu Port will commence,” he added.
He further revealed that a public-private agencies committee is set to be formed with proposals expected ahead of the full operationalization of the Lamu Port to provide a way forward on the incentives needed to make the Lamu Port a success.
“There is need for the Lamu Port to offer good incentives in light of it being a new port, and one of the key features that shipping lines are looking at is for the port to have sufficient cargo storage space, efficient movement and clearance of documentation as well as the availability of free storage base,” Silvester Kututa Express Shipping and Logistics Limited Managing Director stated.
The logistics expert further noted that Lamu’s geographical position along the equator posits an advantage that could work in the port’s favour, adding that Africa is slowly gaining ground on the global market.
“As Africa gains ground there is a need for more logistical and shipping solutions, and the Lamu Port provides that whether it is to serve the Northern Corridor or Southern Ethiopia and South Sudan, whose trading volumes and needs have been growing over the years,” Kututa stated.
By Amenya Ochieng