Kenya Upgrades Manda Bay Station As Second Naval Base, Lookout Point

The upgrading of the Manda Bay station in the north coast of Kenya, into a full military base, is the latest signal by Kenya on just how much it is investing in the security of the new Lamu port and the Lamu Port-South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor and its entire Coastal territory.

The base in Lamu County, will now serve as a co-ordination centre to secure the maritime and land territories.

Nairobi sees Lapsset and Lamu port as a critical national and international investment deserving maximum security.

"Given the growing investments in this part of our country and the promise of the maritime domain, Manda is an invaluable listening and watching tower for Kenya and Kenyans," President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Thursday at the presentation of Presidential Regiment Colours to the Kenyan Navy in Manda Base.

"We are steadfastly committed to making Boni area a peaceful and stable economic hub. Those infrastructure projects will support the livelihoods of our people within the region," he said.

Lapsset, a $23 billion project was mooted in 2012 by Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia to construct interconnected ports, railways, airports and roads. Lamu port has so far set up the first berth. But the project largely relies on security and commitments by the three countries to see the projects built.

Terrorist cells

Although the government says the Manda Base upgrade is about guarding the border against external attacks, it comes as the International Court of Justice prepares to deliver a judgement in the maritime border case between Somalia and Kenya on October 12.

Mogadishu sued Kenya at the ICJ, seeking to redraw its maritime boundary from Kiunga, just north of Manda.

Manda was also critical in Kenya's entry into Somalia in pursuit of kidnappers and later terrorist cells and the final onslaught on Kismayu which uprooted al-Shabaab .

President Kenyatta said the naval base is strategically located and has played a critical role defending Kenya's sovereignty, maintaining territorial integrity, and securing the nation's maritime borders.

"Today's exercise of presentation of the Presidential and Regimental colours to Kenya Navy Manda Bay Base will see the installation gain expanded operational autonomy as it sets out to become a more geo-strategic facility for national, regional and global security operations."

The base was established as a forward operating location under the operational control of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and is now the second Kenya Navy Base after Mtongwe.

It has been a multinational task force that combed the Indian Ocean to guard against piracy.

Now the waters are free from pirate attacks after the International Maritime Organisation recently removed Kenya from the piracy red list.

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