Coast angles for jobs and business in new Lamu port
By Patrick Beja and Philip Mwakio | May 18th 2021
Truck owners are among cargo interveners expected to reap big from the new Lamu Port where commercial operations are expected to start by June this year.
With the absence of a pipeline or a railway line to link Lamu to the mainland, truck owners will enjoy a monopoly of moving cargo to and from the new biggest habour in the country.
Yesterday, Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) Executive Officer Denis Ombok said the truck owners were ready to deploy their vehicles to Lamu once cargo is available.
KTA boasts of more than 5,000 trucks that employ approximately 10,000 divers and turnboys. It also supports other auxiliary sectors like oil and spare parts traders.
“We are waiting for cargo to be available. But we must also ask the government to address the issue of insecurity in the area,” said Mr Ombok, adding that the island was still volatile.
Since early 2010, Lamu has witnessed several terror attacks that have been blamed on Jeshi la Ayman, an offshoot of the Somali-based Al Shabaab terror group. Most of the attacks target public transport.
Last week, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani said the government has put in place measures to bolster security in Lamu and to also secure the over Sh40 billion facilities at the port.
Mr Yatani said more security personnel have been sent to the area to enable easy movement of cargo and people.
Other Mombasa-based shipping firms that endorsed Lamu Port are the Kenya Ships Agents Association (KSAA) that represents the interests of all shipping lines serving the Mombasa Port.
KSAA vice-chair Sylvester Kututa said the port was important for commercial and strategic reasons and hence they fully backed the Lamu Port, which is set to receive its first ship on Thursday.
Others are Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa), which represents the interests of the clearing and forwarding agents, and the Shippers Council of East Africa.
Meanwhile, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has also hired 100 workers from Lamu to work at the port. The youth completed their training at the Kenya School of Government in Mombasa.
KPA Human Resource Manager Mary Wangare said in addition to the 100 youth from Lamu, the authority has transferred at least 60 other experienced staff to the new port.
“We have recruited the new staff from Lamu County and transferred at least 60 experienced workers to the new facility,” said Wangare.
All relevant port agencies have also set up offices and deployed personnel to facilitate the clearance of cargo.
Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Chairman Francis Muthaura said he has dispatched cargo scanners to Lamu.
He noted KRA will offer generous concessionary rates to traders to grow the business. “We are after taxes but we are also alive to the fact that we must support the port to grow and that is why we will offer generous concessionary rates.”
Lamu Port South Sudan Ethipia Transport (Lapsset) corridor development authority chairman Titus Ibui said a steering committee has been set up to market the port within the region and globally.
The port’s regional market is Kenya, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda. Last year, the facility was elevated to be an African Union project to link the Indian Ocean and West Africa’s Atlantic Ocean.
Yesterday, Lamu municipality manager Omar Famau said they have developed integrated development plans for Lamu island and the mainland factoring in the development of houses for the port population.
In the mainland port area covering Hindi, Mokowe and Bargon, the Swahili settlement scheme will offer space for modern houses.
“We have a plan to develop markets at Mokowe and Hindi areas together with a proper drainage,” he said.
On Thursday, Maersk Logistics East Africa Managing Director Carl Lorenz told the stakeholders the firm will bring the first ship on May 20 signaling the opening of the new port.
And yesterday, the second batch of equipment from KPA was transported from the Mombasa port to Lamu. The equipment includes forklifts, labour cranes, and a rubber tyred gantry crane, according to the Head of Corporate Affairs Bernard Osero.
The authority is expected to acquire a ship to shore gantry crane and another modern kitty for the new port.
The government has built three of the planned 23 berths for the Lamu Port. The first berth is complete while the other two are 90 per cent complete. The three berths cost more than Sh40 billion.
China Communications Construction Company is currently building the yards for the two berths, which are expected to be complete in October this year.
The government has also launched the process of compensating 4,734 fishermen over the lost fishing ground after setting aside Sh1.7 billion. Yatani said the fund will be used to provide the fishermen modern fishing gear to ensure sustainable fishing in Lamu.
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