27 November 2012

Kenya: Lamu Port Completion on Schedule

Nairobi — Realization of a second port in Kenya appears in sight following the assurance last week that Lamu port project is on course and ahead of time.

The government official charged with supervising the construction of the port told reporters that project will be completed on time and that the construction of the head office would actually be completed a whole six months ahead of schedule.

The project will cost a colossal $23.4 billion.

The Secretary for infrastructure in the Office of the Prime Minister Mr. Sylvester Kasuku said the administration block of the project could be completed in March next year signaling the beginning of other intensive construction work at the facility.

The office block will house the various teams involved in the construction on the project.

"Measures are in place to ensure that the project is completed on time. Once we have the various teams involved in the construction well sheltered, the rest will be the real construction which we also expect to complete on time," said Kasuku.

The Lamu Port Southern Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET) also known as the Second Transport Corridor comprises the Lamu port at Manda Bay, a railway line, highway, oil refinery, oil pipeline and airports at Isiolo, Lamu and Lodwar.

Once complete, this project is expected to transform periphery towns like Lamu, Isiolo and Lodwar into resort towns and special economic zones especially Lamu town.

The ambitious project commissioned by President Mwai Kibaki in February this year looks at enhancing trade between Kenya, South Susan, Ethiopia and the rest of the East African region.

Other dignitaries who attended the official commissioning of the project include Southern Sudan President Salva Kiir, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

Among other things, the multibillion dollar project will ease cargo traffic at the Port of Mombasa, a situation that will come as a major reprieve for regional exporters who currently have to content with the slow clearance at the Mombasa facility.

A couple of weeks ago, Ugandan business people who use the port of Mombasa were up in arms over the slow clearance of their cargo and plans by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to hike warehouse and cargo clearance changes.

The standoff occasioned by the traders who threatened to avoid using the port in preference of the longer Tanzania route almost caused a diplomatic tiff between Nairobi and Kampala forcing the intervention of higher authorities.

It is expected that the completion of the Lamu project will drastically reduce shipping and cargo clearance charges therefore boosting business in the eastern Africa region. This is apart from other inherent benefits like employment creation and increased revenue for the Kenyan government.

The Lamu port is one of the priority projects under Kenya's development blueprint popularly referred to as the Vision 2030 and already, funds from the exchequer and a myriad of international donors have already been dedicated to the project.

Among the infrastructure works currently ongoing on the project include a power transmission line running from Rabai in Kilifi to the port of Lamu. The 400km line will connect Lamu with a 220 kilovolt line of power to ensure the power needs of the project under construction are well met.

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