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Operationalization of the Lamu Port to Commence this Thursday

LAMU, Kenya, May 17- All is set for the official launch of the newly constructed Lamu port, in a function to be presided over by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday this week.

The Kenya Ports Authority said the operationalization of the port will link Lamu to South Sudan and Ethiopia, the main targets of cargo movement.

KPA Board Chairman General Joseph Kibwana said that Berth 1 of the port is complete and can operate.

There are 3 berths in place but storage facilities for Berth 2 and 3 are yet to be completed.

“After the launch, we will start limited operations, then transit to full operation of domestic and transit cargo,” said Kibwana.

Kibwana said the port is expected to be fully operational by December this year.

On the day of the launch, there will be two vessels to mark the beginning of the operations.

The main vessel docking will be MV CAP CARMEL and there will be the additional vessel MV SEAGO BREMERHAVEN.

In terms of comparison to the port of Mombasa, he said the Lamu port has been constructed under higher standards.

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For instance, the Berths at Lamu are longer that is 400 meters as compared to Mombasa’s 300 meters.

In addition, the Berths at Lamu have a depth of -17.5 against -15.5 those of Mombasa.

“This gives Lamu an added advantage as bigger vessels can dock here, bigger vessels translates to bigger volumes of cargo,” he said.

The port of Lamu will be run by the Kenya Ports Authority, as opposed to earlier proposal to have the facility run by a private entity.

Kenya Ports Authority General Manager Engineer Abdullahi Samata announced plans to have a high-level delegation to South Sudan and Ethiopia to market the port after the launch.

“The idea is prove that we are reliable partners by showing the advantages of using this port because remember we have competitors like Djibouti,” said Engineer Samata.

The Authority Acting Managing Director Engineer Rashid Salim also said as part of measures to attract investors they are working with the Kenya Revenue Authority to come up with incentives, including free storage for a period of 30 days and tax rebates.

On the issues raised by fishermen over disruption of their livelihood due to activities at the port, the Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia said about 4700 fishermen are set to benefit from sh 1.7 billion allocated for compensation.

“65 per cent of the money will go towards cash transfers while 35 per cent will be used for sustainability,” said Macharia.

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Macharia assured that security has been revamped in the volatile region, noting the deployment of the Navy, Kenya Defense Forces, Coast guard and the Administration Police.

Meanwhile, road links at the LAPPSET corridor are also in the works with the Lamu-Ijara-Garissa expected to be done within a year.

No works have started on the rail network however, with the Kenya Railways Corporation Board Chairman General (Rtd) Omudho Awitta citing ‘lack of funding.’

The Lamu port has been associated with a lot of opportunities including creation of jobs, boosting the economy.

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