President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday afternoon witnessed the offloading of the first cargo from Danish vessel MV Cap Carmel at the new Lamu port.
This signaled the beginning of the official use of Sh310 billion port.
In an event which was only witnessed by Kenyan government officials, President Kenyatta also presented a certificate to the master of the first vessel to make a maiden call to the facility.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who was expected to accompany President Kenyatta, did not attend the event even though his country is touted to be the main client of the port.
During the commissioning of second Kenya's commercial port, the President was accompanied by Treasury Cabinet Secretary Treasury Ukur Yatani, his Transport counterpart James Macharia and other government officials.
President Kenyatta promised to allocate more funds to complete the two remaining berths by October.
“The opening of the first berth will act as an assurance to those who have been doubting the project,” the President said.
“I invite shipping lines and cargo movers to come and start using Berth One which is already in use from today as we await the opening of berth number two and three in July and October, respectively.”
Arrived at 5am
Mv Cap Carmel arrived from the port of Dar es Salaam and docked in Lamu at 5am. It will thereafter sail to the port of Salalah in Oman.
Mv Seago Bremerhaven was the second vessel to dock at the port on Thursday, a few hours after the first ship arrived.
Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) cleared the Singaporean flagged ship using the new Integrated Customs Management system (iCMS) — used for cargo clearance — and which was already installed at the Lamu port.
The KRA office in Lamu has been equipped with the necessary infrastructure, including connectivity to access all the Customs, Kentrade and Kenya Ports Authority systems.
The authority has also deployed a team of experienced officers at the Lamu port to clear two Maersk shipping line vessels, namely Cap-Carmel and Mv Seago Bremerhaven, which were accorded preferential pre-arrival clearance through the new iCMS.
KRA has also put in place elaborate risk management measures to discourage illicit trade through the new port. This will ensure that only legitimate trade is allowed to pass through the port.
To facilitate safe evacuation of transit cargo to Ethiopia and South Sudan, KRA has completed the geo-fencing of the twin corridors of the Lamu-Garsen-Witu-Hola-Garrissa-Modika-Modogashe-Isiolo-Moyale and Lamu-Garsen-Witu-Hola-Garissa-Thika-Isiolo-Moyale.
Similarly, the authority has geo-fenced the Lamu-Mombasa corridor to facilitate transhipment cargo. These corridors are important arteries that will link the Northern Corridor to South Sudan.
A team from KRA’s Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking (Rects) unit has already been deployed at the Lamu port to ensure that all trucks transporting cargo through the port are armed with seals to track and monitor all transit shipment.
Additionally, a mobile scanner has been deployed at the port to promote non-intrusive inspection of all the goods being imported through Lamu port.
During his tour of Lamu on Thursday, the President commissioned the Lamu-Garissa-Ijara road, which will connect Lamu with north eastern Kenya.
“The roads which have been built will assist not only in evacuating cargo but also boost security in the area. As the port start its operations today, we are also asking the locals to take advantage of the port and invest to improve their economies,” said President Kenyatta.
On infrastructure, the President said the government will allocate more funds, not only for building more roads, but also a railway line to connect the Lamu port with other parts of the country.