, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 1- President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday witnessed the signing of a Sh42 billion contract between the Kenya Ports Authority and the China Communication Construction Company for the building of the first three berths of Lamu Port.
The signing of the contract marks the beginning of construction of three of the 29 berths estimated to cost Sh87.8 billion. The deal is also expected to trigger the involvement of the private sector in the construction of the remaining berths and various other components of the corridor which is pitted to be the most attractive transport and logistics hub in the region.
The project not only entails the construction of the port but also encompasses other infrastructure including roads, railways, airports, oil refineries, oil pipeline, fibre optic cable and high grand falls.
Although the Lamu Port South Sudan, Ethiopia Transport corridor (LAPSSET) project is to be financed by four of the East Africa nations namely, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and South Sudan, the Kenyan government has hit the ground running by setting aside Sh4.45 billion to immediately commence construction works and also cover for compensation costs for those families that will be displaced by the project. Owing to this development, President Kenyatta directed the Lands Ministry to speed up the process of compensating those affected.
While lauding those involved in progressing the project, President Uhuru Kenyatta noted that the commencement of the first three berths reiterated Kenya’s commitment to regional integration and trade facilitation thereby further issuing a directive to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure to finalise the inter-governmental agreement for the development and operation of the transport corridor with South Sudan.
In a bid to capitalise on the gains that will be brought about by the project, the government has embarked on enriching the skills of the Youth of Lamu where 200 young boys an girls have been recruited with 169 of them having already reported to various colleges to amass the necessary skills to ensure the projects benefits the community.
The completion of the project is expected to enhance regional integration by linking Kenya to its neighbours.