Press Center | Freight Shipping Logistics News
A second port in Lamu makes economic sense, its proponents say, since the Port of Mombasa is almost stretched.
The port received 19 million tonnes of cargo last year against an installed capacity of 20 million, according to the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).
“The volume of cargo this year is likely to reach the maximum capacity, hence the need to construct another port if Kenya wants to remain the regional hub,” said operations manager Joseph Atonga, who noted that this extra capacity ought to have been created six years ago when it approached 60 per cent capacity mark.
He said Mombasa would not be relegated to a feeder channel as it was feared once Lamu was completed.
The two would complement instead of competing each other.
“The two ports will focus on different corridors. Whereas Mombasa port is expected to serve the traditional Uganda, Rwanda and DRC, Lamu port will handle cargo for Southern Sudan and Ethiopia,” said Mr Atonga.
Former KPA managing director Jonathan Mturi said the new port would place Kenya in a competitive position.
“We are talking of a port that has the capacity to open this country to be a business hub in the whole of Africa especially because Kenya is centrally located on the continent,” he said.
KPA, which manages all ports in the country, is already upgrading the port of Mombasa to ensure that it remains a transit hub through the Northern Corridor.
The process of dredging the channel to a depth of 15 metres to accommodate huge vessels began last month with the opening of tenders to identify a firm to carry out the work and assist in raising the Sh7 billion required for the project.
Six international firms submitted their bids and their technical capacity will be evaluated by the end of this month, says the tender committee.
The authority is also building a second container terminal that will create an extra capacity of 1.2 million 20-foot equivalent units compared to the current terminal which has the capacity to handle 250,000.
With the entry of Southern Sudan into the region’s economy, estimates put unrestricted demand of cargo through Kenya rising upwards of 32 million tonnes per
annum, the lead consultant to the second transport corridor, Dr Mutule Kilonzo, said in an interview with the Nation.
According to Mr Atonga, while Mombasa port is currently handling insignificant volumes of cargo for Southern Sudan and Ethiopian markets, it will not be able to sustain the growing need for access brought about by heavy demand of the country’s (Sudan’s) reconstruction.
“It has been recognised for a long time now that Kenya, as the principal gateway to the sub-region needs an alternative port which was identified by a study carried out as early as 1975 and cited Lamu as a suitable alternative” said Mr Mutule.
The government last month contracted Japan Port Consultants to carry out another feasibility study for the project.
The firm is expected to take about 10 months, the Ministry of Transport chief economist and head of planning, Mr Alfred Kitolo, said.
The government has allocated Sh500 million this financial year to the project, he said.
President Kibaki last week entered into a deal with the Chinese Government, which promised assistance in the development of Lamu port.
The port will be able to handle super post-Panamax vessels because of its deep natural channel and will be one of the largest ports in the continent, also serving as a trans-African port, according to Mr Mutule.
By GITHUA KIHARA and GITONGA MARETE
PARASTATAL heads who signed the Mombasa port community charter risk being sacked if their agencies do not deliver on the contents of the new entity. The charter signed between the government and the private sector aims at improving the movement of cargo from the port into hinterland