MOMBASA, Kenya, Mar 12 – The Government has announced plans to revive the Kenya National Shipping Line that has the potential to contribute Sh304 billion to the country’s economy annually.
The revival of the shipping line is expected to return Kenya to its historical place as a rich seafaring nation with highly respected seafarers.
The initiative is expected to create an average of 3,000 job opportunities for youth in the first year, and thereafter progressively increase to 6,000 in five years.
State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu on Sunday said the State Department of Maritime and Shipping Affairs, through its Blue Economy Committee, has rolled out plans to restructure the ownership of the KNLS.
“Negotiations are at an advanced stage for the exit of foreign shareholders who have expressed desire to cease working with KNLS, due to KNSL having become a parastatal” said Esipisu when he addressed the press at State House, Mombasa.
Esipisu said the revival of the the shipping line, which has been dormant for decades, is part of the Jubilee administration’s wider plan to boost the economy of the coast region as well that of the whole country.
“This administration has invested billions of shillings in this region to build or improve security, infrastructure and general service delivery, with the simple goal of uplifting the live of residents in an inclusive way,” said Esipisu.
The State House Spokesperson used his press briefing to speak on the wide ranging development initiatives that have been rolled out in the region and more that are in the pipeline.
On Saturday, President Kenyatta was in Taita Taveta County to launch the tarmacking of the 56 kilometer Bura-Mtwamwagodi Road.
“The Jubilee Administration is also set to implement the Mzima II water project in the next financial year at a cost of Sh35 billion…. It will address the perennial water shortage and serve the areas of Voi, Wundanyi, Taveta and Mwatate while the excess water will serve the people of Kilifi and Mombasa,” said Esipisu.
Also top on the Jubilee administration’s development agenda for the coast is the expansion of Malindi Airport at a cost of Sh700 million.
The Spokesperson said the government will invest many more billions of Shillings in the construction of the Lamu Port, which is the anchor of the LAPSSET corridor project.
“Additionally, the 485 kilometer Isiolo-Moyale road (Ethiopia Link) has been completed at a cost of Sh50 billion. This road forms 27 percent of the LAPSSET Corridor road,” said Esipisu.
As part of the Jubilee administration’s efforts to spur growth in the region through transformational projects, the Kenya Ferry Services has undergone refurbishment and expansion. On Monday, President Kenyatta will officially launch the resumption of Mtongwe ferry services.
On the Standard Gauge Railway, Esipisu said Kenya Railways will receive 200 freight wagons, three passenger locomotives and other equipment in the coming week.
He also revealed that 35 students left the country last month to start a 4 year Railway Degree Programme at Beijing Jiatong University in China.
“We are still on schedule for the handover and the first train will run by June 1, 2017,” said Mr Esipisu.
He also pointed out that the Mombasa Port has undergone significant transformation under the Jubilee. administration.
“There has been an increase in the number of berths, improved efficiency of management of the port that has resulted in significant increase of the container throughput,” he said.
The government will also expand Ukunda Airport so that it can open up the economy of Kwale County.
The Ukunda Airport runway is being extended to 2 kilometers in length and a width of 30 meters. A new terminal building will be constructed to meet demand and the apron will be expanded to accommodate larger aircraft.
The State House Spokesperson also spoke extensively on infrastructure projects in the coastal region.
He said currently, the Government has embarked on a project to increase the number of Low Volume Seal Roads in the region. A total of 601 kilometers of Low Volume Seal Roads will be constructed at a cost of Sh25.7 billion.
On Monday, President Kenyatta will launch the construction of Kinango-Samburu Road and also Mariakana-Bamba road. He will later return to Mombasa to inspect the ongoing construction of Airport-Changamwe Road.