The Port of Lamu roared to life with the operationalization of the first berth, presided over by His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The 310 billion port marks a major milestone as it becomes the second commercial port in Kenya which is expected to transform the shipping and maritime industry in Africa.
The Port received two container vessels on the launch date with MV Cap Carmel making history as the first vessel to call the modern facility.
She was followed by MV Seago Bremerhavel. Speaking after witnessing the offloading of cargo from the two vessels, the Head of State noted that the operationalization of the port marks an important milestone towards transforming regional economies through increased trade, integration, and inter-connectivity: a key objective of the Vision 2030.
As a critical pillar of the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor project, Lamu port will connect Kenya to South Sudan and Ethiopia and is also expected to link northern Kenya to the Middle Belt of Africa which runs from Dakar, Senegal in the west to Lamu in the east.
President Uhuru Kenyatta further added that The Lamu Port is strategically located at the middle of major shipping routes and its operationalization will enable Kenya to realize long cherished goals of opening northern Kenya to international trade, fortifying the country’s position as a major gateway to Africa, and harnessing the economic potential of the historically under-served region.
“With one of the deep-water harbours on the east coast of Africa, Lamu Port has the potential to become a premier transshipment hub for all cargo destined for the continent, President Kenyatta remarked.
“Furthermore, Lamu now joins Mombasa Port as being a key entry and exit point of cargo, deep into and out of Africa’s hinterland” He concluded.
Cabinet Secretary of National Treasury and Planning Ukur Yatani, encouraged the private sector mainly exporters of agricultural products to utilize Lamu Port as government has given incentives.
As the port begins operations, Kenya Ports Authority in conjunction with Kenya Revenue Authority has announced a promotional tariff to encourage the use of the facility by customers that will run for a year beginning May 20th this year
KPA has lined up various discounts on marine, stevedoring, Shore handling and wharfage services for international vessels calling the Port.
Shipping lines using the port for transshipment shall be charged marine call-based dues once at the first port of call in the Country, on a specific voyage, at either Lamu or Mombasa. For the second port call at either Lamu or Mombasa, they shall be charged 50 percent of the Gross Tonnage Based Dues. Customers will also enjoy a 40 percent discount for stevedoring services and a 30 days free storage period.
Similarly, a 40 percent discount for wharfage and shore handling services shall be offered for transit cargo for both loading and discharging, as well as a 30-day free storage period.
The port of Lamu is envisaged to have a total of 23 modern berths with a quay length of 400metres each and a depth of minus 17.5 capable of accommodating Panamax and new Panamax vessels with a capacity of over 10,000 TEUs.
Phase one of the project comprises three berths with the first already operational and the remaining two expected to be ready by October this year.