President Uhuru Kenyatta will commission the first berth of the Port of Lamu in Manda Bay Lamu County today, marking the end of a 49-year journey since the idea to construct the port was conceived in 1972.
Construction of the Port has been ongoing since March 2, 2012 when then Presidents Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Salva Kiir of South Sudan, and the late Meles Zenawi, who was the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, laid the foundation stone.
The new port will complement the Port of Mombasa and is expected to boost economic growth in the region. According to the Cabinet Secretary for East African Community and Regional Development, Adan Mohamed, the project will open about two-thirds of Kenya’s land mass to economic activity and development.
In recent months, Lamu has experienced a flurry of activity due to the construction of the port. Early last month, the County Executive Committee Finance, Fahima Arafat, reported that the County was experiencing increased land rates collection and more trips from PSVs and airlines. She further added that the county government has collected Ksh 100 million in revenue, which was more than they had targeted.
On his part, Lamu County governor Fahim Twaha disclosed plans to collaborate with the private sector to utilize the new port for export of cattle, cotton and fish. The port is also expected to create employment opportunities for locals. Already, the Kenya Ports Authority has hired a 100 people from Lamu County to work in the port.
The Port of Lamu is part of the Lamu South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor that is aimed at developing border regions of the partner states. Once complete, the Ksh 40 billion project will have three berths.
China Communications Company, the project’s contractor, has revealed that the two remaining berths are 90% complete and will be ready for use by the end of 2021. MV Cap Carmel, a ship owned by Denmark Shipping giant Maersk, will be the first vessel to dock on the port on its way to Oman from Dar es Salaam.