First ships arrive at Kenya’s new Lamu deepwater port

Thursday, May 21, saw the first two ships dock at Kenya’s newly launched Lamu deepwater port. 

The 32-berth Lamu port was launched in a ceremony presided over by Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta. This vital hallmark of his legacy is the completion of the $24 billion (Ksh 2.5 trillion) Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSET) project. All this is part of the country’s 2030 Vision to transform into an industrial and middle-income economy through increased trade, interconnectivity, and integration. 

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The $3 billion (Ksh 310 billion) Lamu deepwater port has 32 berths, 29 of which will be run by the private sector making it the largest deep water port in Sub-saharan Africa. 

On arrival, he witnessed MV Cap Carmel and  MV Seago Bremerhavel, which became the first and second vessels to dock at the port respectively. 

Having departed from Dar-es-salaam in Tanzania, the Singaporean vessel MV Cap Carmel made a stop in Lamu as it continued on its way to Salalah in Oman. MV Seago Bremerhavel will haul a cargo of premium Kenyan avocados from Kakuzi PLC and Makuyu Orchards from Murang’a to France. 

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At the event, the Kenyan President described the port as a “critical pillar” of LAPSSET. He went further to mention how it will connect Lamu, South Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, even going further to link the Middle Best of Africa running from Dakar in Senegal to Lamu in Kenya. The next phase of the project will see the connection of railways and pipelines that will reach Ethiopia, South Sudan, and other states. As pointed out by VoA, most businesses in Ethiopia Use the Djibouti Port, and Kenya hopes to vie for some of that trade by attracting businesses in Southern Ethiopia. 

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The country’s second deep water port was constructed by the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC). Plans for its construction were first drawn in 1972 but remained docile until the former President Mwai Kibaki revived them. Actual construction began in 2014. Once the first three berths are fully operational, the port will generate 3 percent of the country’s GDP. 

On his way to operationalize the port, the head of state made a stop at Minjila in Garsen, Tana River County to launch the 114-kilometer Garsen-Witu-Lamu Road that will boost the movement of cargo in and out of the port.

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Reuters reports of security concerns over the port’s close proximity to war-torn Somalia, where the al Shabaab terror group occasionally launch incursions on targets on lonely roads cutting through jungles surrounding Lamu. It is also worth noting the insecurity situation in Southern Sudan and the Ethiopia-Tigray war that only contributes to political, economic, and infrastructural problems.

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The new port will relax pressure while creating healthy competition on the current Mombasa-Nairobi transport corridor serving landlocked Rwanda and Uganda.

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First ships arrive at Kenya’s new Lamu deepwater port