Dredge works at Lamu first berth set for March 2018 completion

Artist impression of the Lamu port.
Artist’s impression of the Lamu port. PHOTO/COURTESY
Construction of the Lamu Port in the northern coast of Kenya has proceeded at a snail’s pace, and there is little to show for a project that was launched with much fanfare in March 2012.

This is, however, set to change soon following assurances from the government that the project is firmly on course, with dredge works for the first berth set to be completed by March.

According to the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (Lapsset) Corridor Development Authority director general Sylvester, dredging works that began in October last year are well underway, and the contractor, China Communication Construction Company, has already completed more than 20 per cent of the works.

“China Communication Construction Company is expected to complete construction of the (first) three berths by the year 2020 at a cost of Sh48 billion,” Mr Kasuku said in a press briefing.

“[The project] is going to unlock latent economic potential covering about 70 per cent of Kenya’s land space located in the larger northern parts of Kenya.”

He said that Kenya is co-financing construction of the first three berths with the rest expected to be financed by the private sector under a public private sector framework.

Kenya has so far spent Sh12 billion for the construction of the Lamu Port with an additional Sh10 billion allocated for the 2017/18 financial year.

Mr Kasuku recently disclosed that South Africa had already signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop the first three berths in the Lamu Port.

“The South Africans are currently in the phase of submission of proposals and are undertaking discussions with relevant government agencies before commencing construction works,” Mr Kasuku said.

The plan is to construct a total of 21 berths at the proposed port of Lamu by 2030, compared to 18 in Mombasa, where ageing infrastructure hinders the port’s ability to handle big ships and rising amount of cargo.

Upon final completion, Lamu Port will be nearly ten times larger than the existing port of Mombasa, which currently handles 1.2 million Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) annually and has a maximum capacity of 2.5 million TEUs.

The first three berths of Lamu Port, which are expected to be operation in 2020, will handle 1.2 million TEUs and when fully operational will handle 20 million TEUs.

The berths will be capable of handling crude oil carrier with dead weight tonnage of up to 200,00 tonnes and a capacity of two million barrels of crude.

The port is being built at Manda Bay, which juts out towards the islands of Pate, Manda and Lamu, a location chosen for its size and deep waters capable of accommodating large vessels.