NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 26 – President Mwai Kibaki has directed all ministries with a role in the Lamu Port and Kenya’s second transport corridor to expedite implementation of the project.
President Kibaki also ordered the Minister for Finance to take the lead in mobilising resources and to set aside funds to kick start the construction of the first of the three berths of the Lamu Port, adding that the Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet should coordinate and ensure implementation of the project starts immediately.
“In this connection, ground breaking for the construction of the first berth in Lamu should be arranged soonest possible,” President Kibaki said, saying he looked forward to commissioning the first ship docking at the Lamu Port next year.
The Head of State was speaking at Kenyatta International Conference Centre on Tuesday during the Government forum on completion of the planning stage of the Lamu Port—Southern Sudan—Ethiopia transport corridor project.
President Kibaki reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to the implementation of the second transport corridor project, noting that it is an economic development corridor with higher multiplier effects to the areas it will traverse and beyond.
The President welcomed private and public development partners to work with the Government in making the project successful.
Said President Kibaki: “This is a corridor that is doable in our time. Let us all give it our support, because it represents the next frontier of development for our country and region.”
The President pointed out that the project which includes the Lamu Port at Manda Bay and the transport corridor stretching from Lamu to Southern Sudan and Ethiopia will stimulate new businesses, trade, agriculture, new settlements, employment and other socio-economic activities.
“It will also act as a catalyst for productive economic activities such as fish processing in Lamu and around Lake Turkana, livestock development in North Eastern region, tourism and agricultural development in the coastal region and coal mining in Mwingi, among other activities along the corridor,” President Kibaki said.
Besides serving Kenya’s neighbors, President Kibaki said the transport corridor will go a long way in addressing the transport challenges facing the Northern and Eastern parts of the country as well as parts of the Coastal region.
In addition to improving transport and promoting development in various parts of the country, the President said the corridor, which has more than seven projects in one package, will also generate wealth and employment opportunities for Kenyans, especially the youth.
“The key components of the project include construction of the port, railway line, highway, airports, water and oil pipeline, oil refinery, resort cities and power generating projects. Through the use of labour intensive methods, these projects are expected to generate massive
employment opportunities,” President Kibaki said.
Noting that the world has become increasingly competitive, President Kibaki said Kenya has to move with speed in its development agenda in order to retain its competitive edge in the region.
In this regard, the President said the country must urgently undertake infrastructural projects that will position it strategically as a regional hub for business.
He expressed optimism that with the completion of the requisite consultancy studies, the Lamu Port and the second transport corridor project which has been pending since it was first mooted 36 years ago, can now be implemented without further delay.
Said the President: “I have noted that the importance attached to the Lamu Port at Manda Bay and the Lamu-Southern Sudan – Ethiopia Transport Corridor is now shared by most stakeholders. The roadmap towards the completion of the projects involved is also now clear.”
Following Southern Sudan’s independence, President Kibaki said the corridor will provide a shorter and direct route to the sea.
Similarly, the Head of State said, Ethiopia which is landlocked will also benefit form the project as it will provide direct access to the sea through rail, road and air.
The President disclosed that the COMESA, EAC, SADC Tripartite Infrastructure Conference will be held in Nairobi in September this year and one of the projects earmarked for discussion for funding is the Lamu Corridor.
He said the interest that other countries have expressed in the Lamu corridor is testimony of the potential of the corridor to facilitate development in the country, the immediate region and even beyond.
“Indeed, it is my conviction that through regional initiatives, we can extend the corridor to Rwanda, Burundi and the Congo and even to Douala in Cameroon, among other parts of Africa. This way, we shall create a land bridge across Africa that will further promote the integration of the African continent,” President Kibaki said.
Speaking during the occasion, Prime Minister Raila Odinga echoed President Kibaki’s sentiments saying the development of Lamu Port and associated infrastructure will open up the Northern and Eastern parts of the country and spur economic activities that will improve the lives of Kenyans.
The Prime Minister observed that the port which comes with road, rail and pipeline links to Southern Sudan and Ethiopia, is a powerful tool for trade and international relations in the region.
As a critical component of the country’s Vision 2030 development blueprint, Mr Odinga said, the Lamu Port project remained the Grand Coalition Government’s most ambitious plan that will stamp the country’s mark as the transport, trade and communication hub in the East African
Others speakers included Transport Minister Amos Kimunya and the Head of Public Service and Secretary to Cabinet Amb. Francis Muthaura.
In attendance were Cabinet Ministers led by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta, several Assistant Ministers, Members of Parliament, Permanent Secretaries from various ministries and project consultants among other invited guests.