Lamu Port will on Thursday come to life as 204-metre long Mv CAP Carmel, a Denmark-based shipping line, with general cargo from Port of Dar es Salaam, docks on its way to Salalah in Oman.
Mv Seago Bremen Haven loaded with avocado from Mombasa will dock a few minutes later in an event expected to be graced by President Uhuru Kenyatta and other East and Horn of Africa leaders.
The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Captain Geoffrey Namadoa said MV CAP Carmel sailing under flag of Singapore is a geared vessel and will be able to load and offload without the use of harbour cranes.
“According to manifest, we expect to handle 100 containers on the first day in Lamu Port, which will be used to test local road connectivity, which is already complete. Lamu Port is strategic geographically positioned and it will give competition to already developed ports such as Durban,” said Mr Namadoa.
Kenya will this week (May 20) commission the Sh310 billion Lamu Port in its quest to wrest the transshipment market from Djibouti and South Africa.
The newly built facility, which will mainly deal in transshipment, comes at a time nearly all the ports in the region are undergoing upgrades to meet growing demand.
Transshipment is where cargo or container get moved from one vessel to another while in transit. It mainly happens when there are no direct connection between ports.
Lamu Port general manager Abdullahi Samatar said all arrangements to handle first vessel are complete. “We have complied with all port requirements and have temporary ISPS International Ship and Port Facility Security code to use in our berth number one. We hope to start limited operations from May 20 before official opening of the port on June 15, when we expect first shipment,” Mr Samatar said.
Nineteen shipping lines have inspected the port and it is understood that they are willing to use the facility considering the promotional tariffs on offer.
“Outside of transshipment, we are targeting Southern Ethiopia and South Sudan as main market of this port, and that explains why we are working on a number of roads to ensure we are connecting to the two countries. We are also constructing a holding yard in Moyale border post to provide easy processing of Ethiopian cargo,” said Mr Samatar.
Kenya plans to have more than 20 berths at the port constructed through Build and Operate (BoT) model.