Preparation for the opening of Lamu Port is at the final stage with more staff and equipment being transferred from Mombasa to Lamu.
The operationalisation of the port, which was postponed three times due to Covid-19, will now start from June 15.
The date was reached after the Sh1.76 billion compensation headache which has been dragging the process was resolved with more than 4,700 fishermen set to get payouts.
The compensation deal was confirmed by Lamu Beach Management Unit (BMU) chairperson Somo Mohammed.
“We have had our first meeting with compensation committee co-chaired by Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and local administrators. We are hopeful the funds will be released soon before the port starts operations,” said Mr Somo.
The committee co-chair Benard Osero said the funds will be released by mid-May after consolidation the list is complete.
“We shall work with all stakeholders before we release the funds to ensure it goes to those deserving,” said Mr Osero.
East African Maersk Shipping Line has confirmed its ship will be the first to call at the port as the marketing team is deployed to market the facility to attract business from Southern Ethiopia.
Already first consignment of equipment ranging from low load trailers, extension cargo handlers, trailers and other cargo handling equipment have arrived in Lamu while others such as rubber tyred gantries, forklifts and two utility vans, two tugboats, mooring boat, fire engine and an ambulance are expected to arrive from May.
More equipment are expected to be procured in the 2021/2022 fiscal year to ensure the port records high efficiency to compete with other ports.
The move to open the first berth of the port is part of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s order to ensure most of the complete projects are operationalised by June, while all projects which were scheduled to be completed by the same time are completed by August due to the delay caused by Covid-19 pandemic.
KPA has formed a special team to market Lamu Port to Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan business communities ahead of its full operationalisation.
The team, with enticing tariffs, is already contacting different port stakeholders to induce them to start using the second Kenyan port which will first focus on transshipment for the first two months after starting its operations.