Nairobi — Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday signed a 480 million U.S. dollar agreement with a Chinese firm for the construction of the first three berths of Lamu Port in the coastal region.
The deal for the three berths under the Lamu Port - South Sudan - Ethiopia Transport Corridor Project (LAPSSET) Corridor Program was signed with China Communications Construction Company Ltd.
Kenyatta said his government has already set aside for 50 million dollars to immediately commence the construction works.
"This includes funds for compensation of project affected persons. I am therefore directing the Ministry responsible for lands to complete the process of compensating those affected by this project as soon as possible," Kenyatta said.
The three berths will serve general cargo, bulk cargo and container cargo. The designs were completed in 2013 and a Chinese firm was awarded the tender.
The LAPSSET Corridor will create the Great Equatorial Land Bridge, connecting East and West coast of Africa.
It will also see to the development of Kenya's 2nd Transport & Economic Corridor which will in turn reduce over-reliance on the only Corridor-Northern Corridor.
Kenyatta said the commencement of Lamu port project reinforces government's resolve to make infrastructure a key facilitator of social and economic development.
"The commencement of the first three berths will send a strong message to our neighbours of Kenya's commitment to regional trade facilitation and integration," he said.
He noted that the construction of the first 3 berths will present a strong case and trigger for participation of the private sector in the construction of the remaining 29 berths and other components of the corridor.
The project components of the LAPSSET Corridor Program have a budget estimated at 24 billion dollars in construction costs.
The Lamu Port with its 32 berths alone will cost about 3.1 million dollars, the railway 7.1 million dollars while the crude oil pipeline will cost a further 5 million dollars.
"All these components are intended to be implemented as a package that will result in the development of an integrated transport and economic corridor," he added.
Speaking on the sidelines of the event, the LAPSSET Corridor Development Authority Managing Director Silvestre Kasuku reiterated that the project will not only improve Kenya's economy in general but also improve the lives of the people along the Corridor with education being one of the major keys for development, through youth scholarships.
The LAPPSET is one of the major Vision 2030 flagship projects that will ultimately culminate in the attainment of transforming Kenya into a middle income, globally competitive and industrializing country with a high quality of life in the next 16 years.
The development of the LAPSSET Corridor and indeed the first three berths of the Lamu Port is underpinned by a comprehensive feasibility study completed in 2011.
This study indicated that the Port of Lamu will handle approximately 24 million tonnes of cargo per annum by 2030.
This is supported by the fact that the geographical location of Lamu provides a naturally deep and sheltered harbour that will require minimal dredging to receive large post panamax vessels.