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KPA receives Sh1.4b tugboat in project to equip Lamu Port


Mv Pate tugboat built by Med Marine Turkish tugboat builder company will be the first tugboat stationed at the Port of Lamu. [Robert Menza, Standard]

The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has started acquiring modern equipment for the Lamu Port.

Port officials on Tuesday received the first Sh1.4 billion tugboat from Turkey at the Port of Mombasa.

KPA Chairman Gen (rtd) Joseph Kibwana said the tugboat, christened MV Pate, was part of the port's modernisation plan aimed at improving efficiency.

The port is being positioned to handle trans-shipment cargo and livestock exports.

Gen Kibwana said the facility, which was commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta in May last year, will be fully operational once road connectivity is completed.

"The coming of this boat is a relief to the new port, which has continued to receive ships," he said.

He noted that the port has been using equipment transferred from Mombasa to handle ship and yard operations.

"With such an arrangement, we have also had to incur huge expenses from time to time whenever we ferry equipment from the Port of Mombasa to facilitate services such as pilotage and tugging," he said.

KPA board has approved the acquisition of three mobile harbour cranes for the port.

The authority also plans to acquire three ship-to-shore gantry cranes, three rubber tyred cranes and four terminal tractors.

Gen Kibwana said KPA and its stakeholders have launched a marketing campaign in Ethiopia and South Sudan even as they prepare Lamu Port to handle livestock to be exported to the Middle East.

KPA Acting Managing Director John Mwangemi noted that the acquisition of the tugboat was part of the authority's strategic plan that focuses on the emerging market needs and trends.

"The delivery of MV Pate tugboat is part of the Port of Lamu's marine vessels fleet, which will exclusively offer tuggage services for vessels calling the port of Lamu," he said.

"Initially, the Port of Lamu relied on dispatch of tugs from the Port of Mombasa whenever a vessel called, contributing to high operational costs and time."

The tugboat with two caterpillar engines has a lifespan of 20 years.

Captain Rahman Aydin, who navigated the vessel from the shipyard, said it took three months to deliver it to Mombasa.

He said the crew braved strong monsoon winds that made them stop in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, for 46 days.

The government has built the first three berths at the Port of Lamu at a cost of Sh40 billion. The Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor has a short-term target of serving Ethiopia and South Sudan.

While there is optimism that the port will bring about the renewal of Lamu, there are concerns about the degree of connectivity between the county and the rest of the country.

Last year, the Kenya National Highway Authority and China Communications Construction Company signed a Sh17.9 billion deal to construct a 453-kilometre road network as part of the Lapsset corridor project.

The project comprises 257km Lamu-Ijara-Garissa section as well as the 113km Hindi-Bodhei-Basuba-Kiunga section, and the Ijara-Sangailu-Hulugho section, which extends 83km.

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