The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) equipment modernisation programme got a major boost following the arrival of four new Ships to Shore Cranes (STSs) at the Port of Mombasa the gateway to East and Central Africa.
The four new generation STSs which are replacing the recently decommissioned cranes at berth 16, have the capacity for twin lifts as opposed to the old generation single lift.
Equipment acquisition and modernisation are part of KPAs plans as it flexes its muscles in regional Port competition.
KPA Managing Director (MD) Capt William Ruto says the modern fleet of equipment will double berth productivity and reduce ship working time at berth by nearly 40 per cent.
Capt Ruto says with the ongoing equipment upgrade initiative, KPA has also acquired new reach stackers, empty container handlers, and terminal tractors among others to improve efficiency and keep up with the rising cargo volumes at the ports.
He says the Port of Lamu which recently acquired three new Harbour Mobile Cranes will also receive the latest generation of STSs.
The Lamu port code-named Lamu South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor is a crucial Kenya Vision 2030 flagship project and is expected to transform regional economies through increased trade, integration and interconnectivity spanning South Sudan and landlocked Ethiopia and beyond.
“We don’t want our ports to suffer from heavy congestion owing to creaking infrastructure and that is why we are providing them with new equipment and infrastructure,” he said, adding that KPA seeks to reposition the Mombasa and Lamu seaports for greater efficiency.
He says the Authority is training 121 reach stacker operators with the initial 30 having completed the training. This is to equip them with the requisite skills to operate the new advanced yard equipment.
Capt Ruto says the modern cranes have superior features compared to the previous STSs as they are fitted with twin lift spreaders; capable of handling two containers per move as opposed to the previous single lift.
The KPA MD says the multibillion shillings investments will enhance the capacity at the marine terminals and also reflects KPAs commitment to continuously improve its services for the benefit of the port stakeholders.
“Our aim is to be able to serve the port stakeholders in a more efficient and cost-effective manner so that we remain a competitive port in the region,” he said, adding that the modernization drive will be improving efficiency and optimising the ports.
He says equipment acquisition and modernisation remains one of the key strategies KPA has employed to enhance operational efficiency at port facilities and has been working to retire and replace dilapidated equipment.
Meanwhile, Capt Ruto says the KPA has begun in earnest the construction of the Sh2.6 billion Shimoni fishing port project in Kwale County.
Capt Ruto says the first fish port in the country is expected to tap into the blue economy sector and enhance value addition in the fishing industry.
“The construction of Kwale’s fishing port is on track and we are hopeful that this landmark project will open a new perspective of opportunities for Kenyans in general,” he said.
He added that the project will be a game-changer for the economic livelihoods of the people of Kwale in particular.
He said KPA is determined to complete the unique fish port construction within 12 months down from the initial period of 24 months.
The top port official says KPA is determined to expedite the much-awaited port project to ensure its completion within the next 12 months as per the recent directive given by President William Ruto.
He says the presidential directive has increased the speed of work at the first fish-dedicated seaport that KPA is building.
“We will continue to work round the clock to deliver the project within the given timeframe and in accordance with our specifications and master plan,” he said.
He says plans to construct a modern marine fish auction market with electro-mechanical and refrigeration equipment is underway to serve the needs of the local fisher folk.
“The new fish port project will drive economic growth and improve the living conditions of the inhabitants of the coastal region,” said Capt. Ruto.
The Shimoni Fishing Port will enable large-scale exploitation of the fishing industry, bolstered by a ready market and value addition, which will spur the creation of a special economic zone.