Ethiopia eager to use Lamu port for its transit cargo

MV Boston offloading cargo at the Port of Lamu, March 2023. [Robert Menza, Standard]

It is good news for the port of Lamu after the Ethiopian government confirmed it was ready to start using the facility.

Visiting Ethiopian Minister for Transport and Logistics Dr Alemu Some, engaged Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Managing Director Capt William Ruto on the need to expedite the completion of supportive infrastructure to fully utilise the port.

Ruto, who confirmed Ethiopia’s position as a major partner in the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) project reiterated KPA’s plans to adequately equip the facility for full cargo handling operations.

The second transport corridor will also serve the transit markets of Ethiopia and South Sudan, increasing trade among the neighbouring countries.

"A joint corridor management committee incorporating a team from Ethiopia and Kenya will be formed to identify challenges encountered with the Lapsset project implementation, to be able to find common solutions for speedy completion," Alemu said.

With a population of about 130 million people, Ethiopia has seen increased cargo volumes and is seeking to diversify the use of port facilities in the East and Horn of Africa to facilitate the movement of its exports and imports.

Alemu, who visited Lamu Port, and was hosted by KPA General Manager for Lamu Port Vincent Sidai, said his government would work closely with Kenya to actualise the Lapsset project.

Experts say that while the focus is on the port of Lamu, which is the anchor project of the larger Lapsset project, the collaboration will go beyond the port to ensure the completion of the standard gauge railway to link the two countries.

There will also be a road network with a dedicated corridor to connect the two countries and an oil pipeline to complete a multi-modal transport network that will enhance trade opportunities between Ethiopia and Kenya.

Alemu, who was accompanied by a delegation drawn from the Ethiopian Maritime Authority, Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics and a team from the Ministry of Transport and Logistics, toured the port of Lamu and inspected the infrastructure at the facility.

He had prior to visiting Lamu toured Kisumu port which connects the region and supports the intermodal transport system between Jinja, Port Bell, Mwanza and Bukoba. Plans are underway by KPA to develop a passenger terminal to support lake transport.

With a capacity to handle up to 300,000 tonnes of cargo, Kisumu Port has registered increased cargo volumes since its revamp in 2017. From January 2023 to July 2023, the port handled 60,910 tonnes of cargo; an increase of 33,662.2 tonnes compared to a similar period in 2022.

The Ethiopian delegation also visited the Inland Container Depot, Nairobi. They also met Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen.

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