Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) will next month launch its Master Plan which promises to revolutionise shipping and logistics sector in the country.

Through the plan, KPA is seeking to make Kenya not only a trade and logistics hub in the region, but also a major player in global commerce through terminal expansion and leveraging on the existing infrastructure.

In its Master Plan, the agency outlines how it will take advantage development of Dongo Kundu as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ), Lamu port to serve Northern Kenya, Southern Ethiopia and South Sudan Transport Corridor, as well as the revitalised Kisumu port to serve regional and local trade on Lake Victoria.

The Authority has also already set aside funds to develop Shimoni port in South Coast as an industrial fishing hub.

The 2019-2047 plan, which will be implemented in three phases, is aimed at sharpening the competitive edge of the Port of Mombasa in a bid to outdo Dar es Salaam and Djibouti ports, which are increasingly giving the local facility a run for its money.

Construction of berth 22 and 23 in the new Container Terminal Two (CT2) whose management was recently handed over to the Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL) and the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) is also earmarked as one of the projects KPA is banking on to increase the number of vessels docking at the port.

According to the Master Plan, which is expected to be officially launched 0n 9 August 2019, the Authority is set to acquire modern equipment to serve CT2 and the new berths are expected to increase conventional cargo to about 77 million tonnes year in the next 30 years with the new Kipevu Oil Terminal set to increase liquid bulk cargo.

The Sh16 billion dredging project where construction of berth 22 and berth 23 would take place is more than 50 percent complete and work is expected to end in September this year.

The dredging, which commenced in February this year amid protest from environmentalists, is part of major projects being undertaken at the port to increase its berths to attain the facility's handling capacity target of 2 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) by 2020, which is part of KPA's short-term plan.

KPA Head of Container Operations Edward Opiyo said once dredging is complete, building of hard ground would begin immediately to ensure the berth is completed on time.

"We expect land reclamation to be complete by end of August before the building of hard ground and installing required facilities for the berth begins. The berth would be one of the largest berths with a capacity to handle 5050 TEUs at a time," said Mr Opiyo.

Dredging is being undertaken by Dutch Dredging Company, Boskalis using Trailing Suction Hopper dredger christened Willem Van Orange that dredges up to 15 metres below chart datum — a level so low that the tide will not fall below it.

Since the beginning of dredging early this year, environmentalists have opposed the exercise citing degradation of environment and interfering with marine life. But KPA management has maintained that all efforts have been made to safeguard the environment as exercise progresses.

The Master Plan also spells out the projections of the new Lamu Port which is set to receive its first super post-Panamax vessel before the end of this year, giving Kenya a head-start in transshipment market.

Construction of three berths out of 32 in Kililani, Lamu West under the ambitious Sh2.5 trillion Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor project are complete and the first mother ship with close to 10,000TEUs is scheduled to dock before December.

"Our vision on the strategic development of the Kenyan ports is based on development of two main coastal gateways (Mombasa and Lamu), supported by inland logistic centres. The port network will facilitate economic growth in Kenya and neighbouring countries, and will open new markets for Kenya in transit countries," the Mater Plan states.

The document notes that the planned hinterland connection from Lamu to Isiolo, connecting to the existing highway network to Nairobi at Garissa, is essential for transport of cargo to the hinterland from Lamu Port.

Though Lamu port is set to commence its operations, the Master Plan recommends a number of guidelines to make it more attractive to investors and improve its efficiency. These include setting up sales and marketing organisations to attract more ships, setting up a tigher water security strategy considering its proximity to Somalia and piracy threats, and better port management organisation.

With the government's project to boost blue economy in mind, KPA will build a fish industrial port in Shimoni to ensure more fish land in the country.

The authority is working closely with Fisheries department to register more Kenyan fishing vessels to ply within Kenyan territorial waters.

Currently there are 12 Kenyan flagged fishing vessels which operates within Kenya's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) with increasing cases of illegal fishing being reported. It is expected that the recently launched Kenya Coast Guards Service will curb Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing.

The Mater Plan also recommends strongly the construction of the Sh30 billion Dongo Kundu free port and economic zone, rekindling hope for hundreds of youths who have lost transportation jobs to the Standard Gauge Railway.

KPA managing director Daniel Manduku said the project's feasibility study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is about to be concluded.

"In conjunction with the Trade and Industrialisation ministry, we have identified 3,000 acres owned by KPA where we shall develop a Free Economic Zone," said Mr Manduku in an earlier interview.

Article by Business Daily Africa