Work on Lamu Port to begin Monday

Artist's impression of the Lamu port.
Artist’s impression of the Lamu port. PHOTO/COURTESY
Construction of the first three berths at the port of Lamu is scheduled to start on May 25, nearly a year after the signing of a tender between the Kenya Ports Authority and a Chinese contractor.

According to the KPA director general Sylvester Kasuku, the project will be launched on Monday in an event that is expected to be presided over by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“Construction will be launched on May 25, together with associated infrastructure,” Mr Kasuku said adding that the launch will also see the official opening of the port’s offices and police station – which are ready.

The construction of the three berths is expected to pave the way for the participation of the private sector in the establishment of the remaining 29 berths and other components of the project.

In August last year, the government approved a Sh42 billion deal with the China Communications Construction Company for the first phase of construction of three of the 32 berths planned for the project.

The tender for the berths, which will serve general cargo, bulk cargo and container cargo, was in 2013 awarded to a consortium of companies led by the China Communications Construction Company.

READ: Chinese firm wins Lamu Port tender

The berths will be completed in three years during which the government will be preparing a business plan on how private investors can be involved, with private public partnerships (PPPs) and joint ventures seen as possible models.

The proposed port at Manda Bay, which will be bigger than the Mombasa Port, is part of the Sh2.1 trillion Lapsset corridor project that has derailed due to lack of funds since its launch in March 2012.

The Lapsset project includes construction of railway lines, a pipeline, roads and airports to open up northern Kenya and connect the country with Sudan and Ethiopia.

The project also includes the establishment of resort cities in Lamu, Isiolo and Lokichoggio as well as the creation of special economic zones.

There will be a highway and rail link joining Lamu with Lokichoggio, near the border with Sudan in the northwest, and another to link it with Moyale, near Ethiopia.

UPDATE (May 24, 2015) – The groundbreaking ceremony has been called off. No reason was given for the cancellation of the event. This is the fourth time President Uhuru Kenyatta has failed to attend the launch.

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