KPA banks on partnerships to save struggling Lamu Port

Lamu Port, Kenya's second seaport, will now be working closely with well-established ports such as Africa's busiest Port, the Port of Tangier in Morocco. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Plans are underway to improve the fortunes of Lamu Port which has failed to reap good returns since it was launched in the mid-last year.

Lamu Port, Kenya's second seaport, will now be working closely with well-established ports such as Africa's busiest Port, the Port of Tangier in Morocco.

So far Lamu has only shown promise in exporting livestock to middle east countries such as Oman.

At the time of its official commissioning in July 2021, Lamu Port was billed as a game-changer in transshipment. Transshipment involves large vessels docking at the port and redistributing their cargo to smaller ships that serve regional ports.

It mainly happens when there is no direct connection between ports.

But as of October this year, only 13 ships have docked at the port, with the latest one being the MV Banyas 1 ship which transported live animals to Oman.

Lamu Port exported some 800 camels aboard MV Banyas destined for the Port of Salalah, Oman. The live animal export cargo weighing 320,000 kilograms also consisted of some Galla Goats (1250 ) weighing 35 kilogram, Black Head sheep ( 984) weighing 25,584 kilogram, Dorper Sheep ( 766) weighing 22,980 kilograms and Bulls (580) weighing 185,600 kilograms.

The port has handled 1,821 twenty-foot container equivalent units (TEUs) and 213 tonnes of conventional cargo.

It is from such a dim beginning that Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) invited a delegation from Tangier Port with whose help the Lamu's prospects could be improved. The Moroccan delegation will mainly learn about the important part Lamu port plays in the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (Lapsett) Corridor.

According to Mr Nasser Tlasella, General Manager of Engineering at Tangier Port, there is great potential for cargo and growth at Lamu.

He asserted in an interview that this was the reason Tangier was intending to work closely with the Kenya Ports
Authority (KPA).

Lamu Port General Manager Vincent Sidai said KPA stands to benefit from Morocco's expertise to enhance its capacity of in maritime trade.

Meanwhile, at the Port of Mombasa, a delegation of officials from Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) of South Africa completed a week-long benchmarking tour at the Port. TNPA also hoped to partner with KPA.

Transnet operates the Ports of Richards Bay, Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, Mossel Bay, Nqura, Cape Town and Saldanha.

Products that are mostly exported or imported through these ports include minerals, agriculture bulk and vehicles.

A statement from KPA said TNPA were keen to exchange useful ideas and insights on port operations and management.

''There were visits to various port installations as part of a learning initiative and collaboration with Transnet in shipping and logistics,'' KPA said.

Led by TNPA Managing Executive for Western Region Phyliss Difeto, the visitors encouraged KPA and other members of the Port Management Association of Eastern and Southern Africa (PMAESA) to join ongoing efforts to re-energize the association.

KPA Manager Corporate Communications Benard Osero who received the delegation on behalf of the Acting Managing Director John Mwangemi welcomed the idea to join PMAESA.

He noted that the association has over the past years contributed greatly to the growth of the maritime industry through well-organised conferences backed with good research.

Osero also highlighted to the delegation the infrastructural development that has been undertaken in Kenya in the recent past including ongoing port capacity expansion, construction of the second seaport of Lamu, rehabilitation of the port of Kisumu, construction of Shimoni Fishing Port, and the completion and operationalisation of the modern cruise terminal at the port of Mombasa.

PMAESA Secretary General Andre Cisse commended KPA for hosting the secretariat since 1973.

Cisse said that plans are underway to re-look at PMAESA and use stakeholder engagements to consolidate its strategy for 2023-2027.

KPA Senior Planning officer (Policy) Mary Munyi in a presentation said that powered by infrastructure development, the port of Mombasa has continued to register an annual cargo growth of 3.3 per cent and container traffic growth of 4.3 per cent for the last five years. ''Mombasa Port's capacity has increased from 1.65 million TEUs in 2021 to 2.1 million TEUs in 2022,'' she said.

TNPA offiicials present included chief Habour master Rufus Lekala, Habour Master Sabelo Mdlalose, Chief Economist Vukani Nkasa, senior manager stakeholder relations and sustainability Simlindile Manqina and Programme manager reporting and integrity Nokubonga Ndlovu.