LAMU, Kenya, Feb 21 – A massive port project and transport corridor linking Kenya’s coast to Ethiopia and oil-rich South Sudan is slowly becoming a reality.
The idea of a port in Lamu was first mooted in1972, but has remained a dream and an idea only in government files.
on Tuesday, Prime Minister Raila Odinga led cabinet ministers, permanent secretaries and technocrats in the infrastructure committee of the Cabinet to a tour of the proposed port site.
Odinga said it was the most serious project to be undertaken by the government since independence and warned the provincial administration against authorising sale of land in the area slated for the project.
The PM’s visit revealed a beehive of activity that is opening up the remote region ahead of the commissioning of the project planned for March 2.
In the PM’s delegation were ministers Chris Obure, Otieno Kajwang, Amos Kimunya, Franklin Bett, James Orengo, Paul Otuoma, Kiraitu Murungi and Njeru Githae.
New murram roads have been completed while work continues on others in an area there were none.
A 200 metre corridor that leads to the first berths of the proposed port is already cleared, linking with a 12 kilometre road that marks the start of the Lamu Transport corridor that will run through northern Kenya all the way to Juba.
The corridor will accommodate rail and power lines to the port.
Odinga appealed to residents of the area to support the project and stop opposing it on the grounds that they are losing land.
“Luck knocks once, not twice, and today, luck is knocking on the doors of people of Lamu. As a friend of the people of Lamu, I want to urge you to embrace this project. The benefits will far outweigh the monetary compensation you are asking for,” the PM said.
He said the government acknowledges that the region had been sidelined, but that should be a reason for residents to support the project instead of opposing it.
“This project will change lives here. We are looking at a project with the capacity of the port of Dubai. The land you are talking about is just a drop in the ocean compared to the benefits you will get,” he said.
Odinga said the government had other areas to build the port along the coast but chose Lamu specifically to uplift lives.
He said the road from the port through Garsen to Isiolo would be at par with the Nairobi-Mombasa highway, in addition to railways and electricity.
He assured residents that the government will ensure their rights and dignity are upheld.
The PM earlier issued 1,200 title deeds for residents of Siu. He said survey works are over and the government will soon be issuing titles in Mokowe, Mpeketoni, Swahili village and Ras Kitau.
The new port is slated for commissioning next week as a joint project of the governments of Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan.