Over 300 trucks on Thursday started to move 7,286 tonnes of food aid from Lamu to the North Eastern region.
It is the first local cargo offloaded at the new port and hauled by road despite recent frequent terror attacks.
The consignment of 64,589 bags of yellow split peas and 80,000 bags of sorghum is destined for the North Eastern region, Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps.
Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Acting Southern Regional Coordinator Laurence Siele said this was the first largest local cargo cleared through Lamu, which has been dealing with the transshipment of cargo from feeder ports.
“KRA has completed the Geo-fencing of Lamu-Mombasa, Lamu-Garissa-Isiolo-Moyale transit routes in readiness to handle cargo to and from the port to the hinterland,” said Siele.
The food was imported from the US through the Port of Djibouti by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in collaboration with the World Food Programme (WFP).
Lamu County Commissioner Louis Rono said security along the Lamu-Garissa-Isiolo-Moyale transit route has been heightened to ensure the safe delivery of the cargo.
“We are on the ground to ensure it arrives safely. We encourage investors to come and build shops, hotels and industries,” said Rono.
WFP Head of Chain Supplies Shane Prigge said that the food would be transported by road to Turkana, Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit Lodwar, Isiolo, Dadaab, and Kamuma refugee camps for distribution.
He said the food donation was courtesy of USAID and that WFPA has shown interest in using the Lamu Port to distribute food aid to Ethiopia once they handle the first cargo successfully.
Prigge said it was the first time they have imported food aid through Lamu port, and promised that WFP will be using the port to distribute food aid to over 4.5 million people across Kenya, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia.
“The food aid is for 4.5 million people in the North Eastern region, including Dadaab and Kakuma.
We have food coming to Kenya and other shipments moving to Sudan, Somalia, and Ethiopia,” said Prigge.
“We see potential to bring more food to East Africa, including Ethiopia, as part of our humanitarian support. This donation was courtesy of USAID and, is set to help 600 refugees and 1,000 Kenyans facing hunger, said Prigge.
KPA’s Lamu Port Manager Vincent Sidai said the shipment is the first cargo destined for Kenya that had docked at Lamu Port. He said KPA offloaded the food within three days.
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“If this shipment goes well, Lamu will open up business opportunities. Since the year began, we have been handling different containers. We urge the investors to use Lamu Port,” said Sidai.
He said Ethiopia has confirmed it will use Lamu Port to transport its cargo, including cattle.
Lapsset manager Salim Bulu said the project is a reality now as the trucks have begun to use the Southern corridor. He said the corridor would complement the port of Mombasa.