DOHA, December 1 – Kenya and the State of Qatar have opened negotiations on the setting up of the proposed Lamu port.
The commercial port in the Indian Ocean town is estimated to cost $3.5 billion. When complete, it will handle larger ships than the Mombasa port.
“President Mwai Kibaki held a successful round of talks with the Emir of the State of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalif Al Thani, where he presented the strong proposal,” a statement from Presidential Press Service (PPS) said.
The Mombasa port is not able to handle larger vessels because its harbour depth is 12 metres compared to Lamu which has a natural 18-metre depth
The Emir assured President Kibaki that his Government was keen on the Lamu project as it sought to diversify its international investment portfolio.
President Kibaki has in the past emphasised that the construction of the second port at Lamu was a priority project that needs to take off.
The Kenya Ports Authority managing director has previously said the Mombasa port would in future be reduced to receiving smaller ships as its harbour depth cannot be dredged to 18 metres.
“Lamu has the potential to host one of the best harbours in Africa as it has a wider channel compared to the Mombasa port which has a restrictive one,” James Mulewa said.
KPA has in the past said that some external funding agencies had already shown interest in the port building scheme.
The plans would involve the construction of a road corridor from Lamu to Mount Kenya region, Nairobi and southern Sudan.
The statement from PPS added that the State of Qatar and Kenya will also open negotiations that would lead to availing of funds for the construction of the Garsen-Lamu Road.
Kenya has also offered to the State of Qatar a partnership in sovereign bond through which Kenya hopes to raise billions of shillings for infrastructure development.
President Kibaki thanked the Emir of Qatar for the warm welcome that Kenyans have received in his State that currently hosts close to 2,000 Kenyans.
In this regard, the Emir welcomed Kenya’s decision to open a mission in Qatar that will offer consulate services to the growing Kenyan population.
The State of Qatar has requested Kenya for the lease of 100,000 acres of farmland for the purpose of horticulture farming in the Coast Province.
The Emir said he would be visiting Kenya next year on an official visit and take time for Safari to sample Kenya’s internationally reputed hospitality and wildlife.