28 February 2012

Kenya: State Says It's Full Steam Ahead for New Lamu Port

The designs for the initial three berths out of the planned 32 at the proposed port of Lamu are ready for tendering, the coordinating committee said yesterday. This is despite resistance from sections of the residents who have filed a legal petition arguing that the government has violated several sections of the new constitution in its implementation of the proposed Port.

During a media briefing ahead of the groundbreaking by President Mwai Kibaki this Friday, the government said that the gains the Sh16 trillion port once complete far outweigh the land issues being raised by the locals. Infrastructure Secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister Sylvester Kasuku said that the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopa Transport and Economic Development Corridor (LAPSSET) project will elevate Lamu to an important trans-shipment hub especially for crude oil, refined oil and oil products from South Sudan.

The entire project will consist a port, standard electric gauge railway line, a super highway, a regional international airport, an ultra-modern tourist resort, an oil pipeline, and a fibre-optic cable constructed to link Lamu to Juba and Addis Ababa. Kasuku said the pipeline will offer South Sudan an alternative route for its oil exports which accounts for 98 per cent of its revenues while opening up northern Kenya for development.

The pipeline estimated to cost $1.5 billion (Sh135 billion) is projected to carry 450,000 barrels of oil a day from Juba to Lamu. "The pipeline is a gateway to move Sudanese oil to the market including Kenya. Both the crude oil line and the refinery are urgent. Our plan is to deliver both at the same time," said Kasuku. He said Kenya would earn transit fees from the pipeline adding that preliminary works on other aspects of Lappset such as roads and port building have started.

Vision 2030 Delivery Secretariat director general Mugo Kebati said that the rationale of the project was the congestion of the Mombasa Port and the transport network in the Northern Corridor, which is increasing the cost of shipping and movement of goods and trade in the region. "Kenya is the gateway to the region, but the current railway system cannot cope with the current and future demands since it is a standard gauge line which is of limited capacity, dilapidated and over 100 years old

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