Kenya: Truckers Issue Demands Before Using Lamu Port

Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) wants certain demands to be met by the government before allowing its members to start using the Lamu port once operations begin this month.

The government recently said the port will be officially be opened on May 30, with the first cargo ship expected to dock at berth one in Kililana on May 20.

KTA's demands include an assurance that security would be improved on the roads in Lamu and surrounding counties and the immediate reduction of fuel prices.

Other demands are tax reductions and ensuring vehicle parts come cheaper.

During his visit to the port, KTA chief executive Dennis Ombok its members are ready to use the port if the demands are met.

He said the Lamu-Witu-Garsen and Lamu-Tana River-Garissa roads have witnessed a lot of insecurity in the past.

Mr Ombok added that security agencies should intensify patrols on key roads if the port is to make profits.

"Our organisation is happy with the development but concern is insecurity. Lamu, Tana River, Garissa, Wajir and other parts have witnessed killings, injuries and destruction of property blamed on al-Shabaab. KTA members need to be assured of their safety if we are to transport cargo to and from Lamu port," Mr Ombok said.

"We cannot let our drivers suffer. Our fear is that they may be targeted by terrorists."

The KTA boss added that the Lamu-Mombasa-Nairobi route is far longer than the Mombasa-Nairobi one and called on the government to give special treatment to drivers using the new port.

The alternative is the Lamu-Tana River-Garissa-Nairobi road.

"The increase in distance means using more fuel than before. To encourage more companies use the new port, the price of diesel and petrol needs to be reduced," Mr Ombok said.

"Vehicle spare parts and taxes also need to go down. We pray that cargo handling charges will be lowered. This is what will drive many to the new port."

Lamu County Commissioner, Irungu Macharia said the government has done everything to improve security in the region.

Mr Macharia added that more security personnel have been deployed to roads leading to Lamu, especially in areas that have for long been considered as terrorist hotspots.

The administrator said improved roads have contributed immensely to the drastic fall in terrorism and other incidents in Lamu and neighbouring counties.

"Lamu is safe. The government wants to see the port working. Everyone should feel free to use it. The security of truck drivers and other road users is guaranteed," Mr Macharia said.

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