The Lamu port was launched last year amid teething troubles. Operalisation of the three berths could not take off as planned due to funding deficits.
Kenya has turned to UAE-based logistics company, Dubai Port World, to manage its Lamu Port due to lack of capacity to run the facility, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani has said.
As a result, the launch of the first birth was delayed because the construction and installation of equipment was not complete. Even then, the new port had to borrow equipment from Mombasa including cranes, trailers, gantries, oil spill response and marine equipment.
“For us actually the motivation (for signing an MoU with DP World) is Lamu port, we have put Sh50 billion into Lamu port from the exchequer and we do not have the capacity to run it,” CS Yatani was on Tuesday quoted by Business Daily as saying.
According to CS Yatani, DP World is among a number of port operators the government is considering as potential private partners to run the new port.
“There are other players including DP World and others who have done very well in port management so we are asking whether they can be our partners. That does not confer them any financial gain,” he said.
Currently, the Lamu Port only serves ships that have their gears for ship operations and roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) shipping like motor vehicle carriers, as opposed to lift-on/lift-off (lo-lo) shipping.
Ro-ro ships are designed to carry wheeled cargo, such as cars, that are driven on and off the ship on their own wheels or using a platform vehicle, while lo-lo vessels use a crane to load and unload cargo such as containers.
The CS, however, noted that the government has not yet committed to an agreement but an MoU to grant private parties the right to run and operate port terminals and infrastructure such as container freight, dry ports and storage facilities.
“There is nothing binding, we are saying in the future we want to collaborate, not now, maybe even twenty years to come,” added Yatani.
The Ksh. 310 billion port was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in May last year.
CS Yatani added that details of when a formal commitment will be reached depend on the next administration.
When complete, the ambitious project is set to have 32 berths, 29 of will be financed by the private sector, making it the largest deep-water port in Sub-Saharan Africa.
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