A container being off loaded from a cargo ship at Lamu Port. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

That 2022 was a difficult year for the port of Lamu is undeniable. The port that was billed as a game-changer in transshipment business struggled to attract business even after strong attempts to market it by the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).

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. Last year, only 13 ships docked at the port.

Lamu also handled a measly 1,821 twenty-foot container equivalent units (TEUs) and 213 tonnes of conventional cargo.

With 2022 now behind us, the new port continues to struggle to fullfil its mandate as a regional transshipment hub. Since the year began, Lamu has handled 300 TEUs destined for the Port of Zanzibar.

The cargo was being ferried by the French liner CMA-CGM Cebu. KPA General Manager Marine Operations and Harbour Master Godfrey Namadoa said part of the cargo will also be taken to the Island of the Union of Comoros through Mozambique.

The operation to receive the ship, whch was on its maiden call to Lamu, won applause from Captain Dmitry Mashelikov who said KPA staff on duty were on hand to receive the ship right from when he first made radio contact with the Lamu Port control.

‘’This is incredible and very professional. It is encouraging for first timers like our ship to be accorded all that support,’’ Capt Mashelikov said. Two all purpose built tug boats, Pate and Kiboko, were on hand to help the vessels berth safely.

 who navigated the ship presented a certificate of First Call on behalf of KPA Managing Director John Mwangemi.

“As expected, the ship performed very well and the weather was beautiful for we seamen. That is not forgetting the wide and deep channel of Lamu; it was a smooth sail and the Master is in love with Lamu,” said Mzee.

Meanwhile, KPA has remained steadfast over the years in facilitating global trade by providing efficient and competitive port services, a new report says.

In an overview of the Annual Bulletin of Statistics, KPA General Manager Corporate Services Edward Kamau said sea ports play a role of utmost importance and act as a catalyst to the development of the marine economy in particular and the national economy in general.

‘’They also serve as cross roads for import, export and transformation in delivery from maritime transport to rail, road and inland waterways transport,’’ he said.

Kamau observed that a lot of research and planning goes into the process of running ports and their related infrastructure with the resultant information relied upon to craft strategies, set targets and implement

work plans that align with the needs of the industry and the customers to optimise efficiency and productivity.

“Data plays a salient role in shipping and logistics. The Annual Review and Bulletin of Statistics provides data on cargo throughput, key performance indicators, trading partners, and market analysis among others,’’ he said.

It also provides crucial insight into the economic parameters that can be tracked to help in planning for future port development and other related infrastructure.

The bulletin offers an analysis of cargo that passes through the Port of Mombasa, the Inland Container Depots and other smaller ports by periodically presenting a detailed review of port performance to stakeholders and business partners providing a tangible perspective of comparative statistics over a five year period.

The port statistics have direct correlations with the performance of the national economy.

In 2020 for example, the Port throughput recorded 34.12 million metric tonnes against 34.44 million metric tonnes in 2019 representing a marginal decline of 0.9 percent.

The negative decline then was attributed to a recession in handling transshipment by 19.9 per cent. Container traffic recorded 1,359,579 TEUs against 1,416,654 TEUs in 2019 representing a decline of 4 per cent with the performance largely attributed to decline in exports of empty containers and transshipment.

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