Port of Lamu receives ship-to-shore gantry cranes worth over Sh4b

By Joackim Bwana | Apr 13, 2024
The newly acquired ship-to-shore gantry cranes being offloaded at the Port of Lamu. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

The Port of Lamu has received three ultra-modern ship-to-shore gantry cranes worth over Sh4 billion that will boost the operations at the second commercial port.

On Saturday, Kenya Ports Authority Managing Director Capt William Ruto said that the new cranes will be able to handle large cargo ships seeking transhipment using Lamu Port as shorter routes as opposed to the Red Sea and Gulf.

While inspecting the offloading of the cranes at the Port of Lamu by the Chinese, Ruto said that the cranes will boost operations along the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor with Ethiopia and South Sudan already committing to use the port as their cargo import route.

He said they have also procured four Rubber Tired Gantries (RTGs) to operate in the Port of Lamu and will arrive between June and July.

“Today, we mark another significant milestone in the journey of the Port of Lamu with the arrival of the three state-of-the-art Super Post Panamax Ship-to-Shore (STS) gantry cranes. These cutting-edge cranes, equipped with advanced technology and capabilities, will revolutionize our operations and position the Port as a global maritime hub,” said Capt Ruto.

The MD said that since Lamu port was operationalized on May 20, 2021, there have been 59 vessel calls to date and a substantial increase in cargo and container traffic.

He said that in 2023 alone, the Port of Lamu handled 37,576 metric tons (MT) of cargo, marking a substantial increase from 6,539 MT in 2022 reflecting a growth of 31,037 MT.

Additionally, container traffic saw a significant rise, with 1,779 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) recorded in 2023 compared to 382 TEUs in 2022, representing an increase of 1,397 TEUs.

“These impressive statistics underscore the vital role that the Port of Lamu plays in facilitating trade and driving economic growth in the region. With a total container capacity of 1.2 million TEUs across its three berths of 400 meters each, the Port is poised to become a key driver of economic growth and regional integration,” said Capt Ruto.

He said the procurement of the cranes at a total cost of sh.4,094,195,040 (USD 31,493,808) including Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF), underscores the government's commitment to managing premier ports, including the Port of Mombasa and Port of Lamu.

Kenya Ports Authority Managing Director Capt. William Ruto (centre) and other official touring the Port of Lamu during the gantry cranes.  [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Capt. Ruto said the two ports serve as vital gateways for regional and international trade, connecting our nation to the global economy.

“What sets these cranes apart is their advanced technology and capabilities. With a reach of 24 containers across and the ability to handle modern vessels over 18,000 TEUs, these cranes are equipped to compete with the best ports in the world and attract Super Post Panamax vessels,” said Capt. Ruto.

He said the cranes have been specifically designed to address the unique challenges posed by Lamu's windy conditions, with twin-box booms ensuring stability and operational reliability.

The MD said the LAPSSET aims to connect the East Coast of Africa to the West Coast through the proposed East-West Trans-African Corridor.

“We have a commitment to using Port of Lamu by Ethiopia. They visited the port and conducted a road survey along the LAPSSET corridor and as we speak the road from Garissa to Isiolo is being tarmacked,” said Capt Ruto. 

He said lots of cargo going to Ethiopia uses the Port of Mombasa but it will be easier after finalizing and operationalizing the gantry cranes that will be ready in a month.

“South Sudan has expressed interest as well. Currently, they are using Mombasa Port to import their cargo. They were also part of the LAPSET project. The road to Isiolo is also being extended to South Sudan,” said Capt. Ruto.

He said already the Port of Lamu has received several inquiries from vessels seeking to dock including Ethiopia who seek to import 60,000 metric tons of fertilizer through the port.

Capt. Ruto said they have equally provided adequate security along the corridors with the army being stationed along the risk-prone areas that have seen attacks by armed assailants along the Boni forest.

“Lamu now we can handle all shipments passing through the RedS and going to Ports in the Gulf. The ships have to pass Salala to Cape in South Africa while heading to Ports in the Gulf,” said Capt. Ruto.
He said that the LAPSSET Corridor Program encompasses a vast network of infrastructure projects, including highways, railways, and international airports that not only enhance connectivity but also promote regional stability and prosperity.

“The ensuing commissioning of infrastructures such as Isiolo Airport and the Moyale One Stop Border Post (OSBP) further demonstrates Kenya's dedication to advancing the LAPSSET agenda,” said Capt. Ruto.

He said in addition to its role in facilitating trade, the Port of Lamu hosts and catalyzes broader development initiatives, including the Lamu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) that seeks to expand production and promote local entrepreneurship

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