The Kenya Ports Authority intends to borrow $ 157 million to complete the construction of the first phase of Lamu Port, a new facility that is struggling to attract shipping companies after its first berth comes into operation in May.
The port has issued an expression of interest by soliciting funding from local and international lenders for the operation of its first three berths. KPA provided a breakdown which shows $ 55 million for the purchase of yard operating equipment, $ 45 million for general equipment, security and ICT installation, $ 29 million for the completion of construction and $ 28 million for marine equipment.
“Phase 1 of the project includes the construction of the first three berths and associated infrastructure, each 17.5 meters deep and 400 meters long. The three berths are designed to handle containers, general cargo and bulk cargo, ”said John Mwangemi, interim CEO of KPA in the tender documents.
He added that the physical superstructure of the three berths as well as the number one yard have been completed, while the number two and three yards are under construction and are expected to be completed in October, subject to the availability of funds. The remaining 20 berths are planned to be built by private investors under public-private partnership agreements.
In May, President Uhuru Kenyatta inaugurated the port’s first berth with most of the equipment including cranes, trailers, gantry cranes, forklifts, spreader and oil spill response borrowed at the port of Mombasa. Since then, the lack of sufficient shipyard operating equipment has forced the port of Lamu to attract only ships with their own equipment for operations, ro-ro ships and motor vehicle carriers.
Only five container ships have docked at the facility since it went into service, raising further concerns about the viability of the facility. It is the hub of the largest transport corridor in Lamu Port, South Sudan-Ethiopia (Lapsset), a $ 24 billion megaproject connecting the Kenyan coast to domestic markets.
“Lamu Port is expected to take full advantage of current shipping trends, where larger vessels are deployed, requiring longer and deeper berths,” Mwangemi said.