The Lamu Port officially opened for business on 20th May 2021 after President Uhuru Kenyatta unveiled its first berth and promised to launch two others before the end of this year. The transhipment port targets to link Kenya to South Sudan, Ethiopia and the middle belt of Africa.
President Kenyatta on Thursday afternoon witnessed the offloading of the first cargo from Danish vessel MV Cap Carmel at the new Lamu port. This signaled the beginning of the official use of Sh310 billion port.
“I am hopeful that before the end of the year in October we will invite regional leaders and other stakeholders for the full launch of the port after completion of the second berth in July and the third berth in October,” said the President.
The President expressed optimism that the new port will inspire Turkana oil investors on the State’s commitment to improving infrastructure.
Lamu, the country’s second commercial port after Mombasa received its first ship on Thursday, a milestone for the corridor, which looks to being a key gateway for eastern and central Africa.
“I invite shipping lines and cargo movers to come and start using Berth One which is already in use from today as we await the opening of berth number two and three in July and October, respectively.”
Lamu port is one of the main components of the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor project and is expected to complement the port of Mombasa while opening Kenya’s largely underdeveloped frontier. The corridor has a short term target of serving Ethiopia and South Sudan. While there is optimism that the port will bring about the renewal of Lamu, there are concerns about the degree of connectivity between the county and the rest of the country.
The corridor itself is expected to have roads, rail and pipelines connecting the port to the hinterland, going as deep into the region as South Sudan and Addis Ababa.
“The Lapsset Corridor is primed to be the most competitive corridor in the region,” said Lapsset authority in a statement, adding that currently there are options for businesses using Lamu Port to evacuate or bring cargo to the port.
It added that there are a number of critical roads that are currently being constructed, which will significantly improve access to the port. These are expected to lure businesses importing and exporting to and from South Sudan and Ethiopia.
Currently, Lamu Port connects to Ethiopia through a 1,425km road – the Lamu-Garsen-Garissa-Kilimambogo-Isiolo-Moyale (Ethiopia border) route, of which 1,075km is paved, while the balance is under construction and expected to be complete in the course of this year.
The authority said this journey would reduce to 832km once a number of roads such as the Lamu-Garissa road are completed.
It is also the case for South Sudan, which though Lamu offers a much shorter route compared to using Port Sudan, over 2,700km from Juba, a poor road network might hamper access to Lamu Port.
Mv Cap Carmel arrived from the port of Dar es Salaam and docked in Lamu at 5am. It will thereafter sail to the port of Salalah in Oman. Mv Seago Bremerhaven was the second vessel to dock at the port on Thursday, a few hours after the first ship arrived.
Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) cleared the Singaporean flagged ship using the new Integrated Customs Management system (iCMS) — used for cargo clearance — and which was already installed at the Lamu Port.