By Jillian Anyango
The LAPSSET Corridor Development Authority has embarked on talks with prospective investors from the Gulf region.
The talks centered on strategies for full development of the Lamu port and its viability as a transshipment hub.
Speaking to the media this week during visit to the Lamu Port at Kililana, LAPSSET Director General Stephen Ikua said the Lamu Port project is still on course.
He said the port and LAPSSET corridor as a whole has earned renewed interest by foreign investors especially on the aspect of serving as logistics hub in East and Central Africa.
Indeed the LCDA together with Kenya Ports Authority hosted a delegation from the Mwani Qatar, a Qatari ports management company that manages Hamad, Doha and Al Ruwais Port in the Gulf nation.
The Mwanai Qatar delegation was led by its CEO Captain Abdulla Mohammed Al Khanji, its Executive VP Commercial captain Hussain Ahmed Al Maqeef and Group Technical and Projects Development Director Ahmed Suleyman, who also toured the expansive Lamu port.
The delegation from Mwani Qatar is visiting the country’s Lamu Port installation within the context of discussing ways to enhance cooperation in the field of ports and maritime transport.
LAPSSET DG Stephen Ikua stated that so far the Lamu Port has handled at least 10 ships since it was commissioned for operations last year.
He stated that the Lamu Port project would continue to source for willing investors who would work towards aiding the Lamu Port City materialize.
The national government has so far spent at least Kshs 40 billion towards completion and operationalization of the Lamu Port project.
He further stated that the port’s livestock processing zone that the National Government has spent Sh3 billion has been completed with plans underway to demarcate at least 30,000 acres of land belonging to the Livestock Marketing Division (LMD) in Bargoni area as a holding zone for livestock that will then be exported to foreign markets through the Lamu port.
“Apart from Lamu Port being a transshipment hub, it will also be the main corridor through which the country will conduct the export of livestock and livestock products from next year,” he added.
His sentiments come in the wake of growing interest by the national government to source for investors with the expertise to actualize the Lamu Port city project.
Equipping Lamu Port
He further quashed doubts that the Lamu Port project had slowed in garnering considerable transshipment business stating that the Lamu Port project handlers, the Kenya Ports Authority have already tendered for the Kshs 2.6 billion towards the procurement of massive handling equipment that would enhance cargo movement operations within the 3 berth port.
Sentiments echoed by KPA General Manager in charge of the Lamu Port Vincent Sidai Esyepet, who revealed that the equipment includes the acquisition of three mobile cranes, three ship-to-shore gantry cranes (STS), three rubber tire gantry cranes and four terminal tractors.
The Lamu Port GM further stated that the acquisition of the equipment demonstrates the government commitment to ensure that port and logistics operations are viable for use by the country’s and region’s Northern Corridor as envisaged in the Vision 2030.
“The new equipment will actively once they are set up will reduce the terminal’s turnaround time in clearing cargo as well as significantly improve the container handling capabilities,” he said.
Speaking on the sidelines Lamu County’s CEC in charge of Agriculture Fahima Araphat called on LCDA and the national government to ramp up efforts in securing private partners who can help realize the potential of the Lamu Port Project and by extension the LAPSSET.
She stated that it is only through Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) that job and indirect investor opportunities can be realized.