The construction of the first three berths at Kenya’s second international seaport of Lamu is due to be completed in 2020, to serve three countries in the East African region, offering the country a gateway to landlocked states of South Sudan and Ethiopia, a port official told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Head of Corporate Affairs, Bernard Osero, said the second port, currently under construction by China Communications Construction Company, will provide the country with its second port, expected to become the second largest in the region.
The Lamu Port is part of Kenya’s Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (Lapsset) project.
The project aims to connect the region with modern transport infrastructure, including the seaport, an oil refinery and resort cities on a busy transport corridor serving the three countries.
“It would also provide direct benefits within the region by passing on savings derived from lower marine costs due to faster ship turnaround. This will at the same time reduce the cost of doing business.” Osero said.
KPA entered an agreement with the Chinese firm for Sh48.73 billion (US$478.9 million) in August 2014 for the construction of the three berths out of the 29 berths expected to be built at the Lamu Port.
“It is true the construction of the Lamu Port is being carried out by the China Communications Construction Company. The execution process of plans to put up the Lapsset project which will soon see the birth of Kenya’s second largest commercial port is ongoing,” Osero said.
The Chinese firm has commenced the process of dredging and reclaiming the channel under the first phase of the project.
“The facilities at Lamu Port once complete will lead to the creation of substantial job opportunities that cover not only direct jobs related to port operation but also indirect jobs of all fields — agriculture, fishery, manufacturing, logistics, transport, trade and commerce,” Osero said.
KPA projects the Lamu Port traffic to hit 23.9 million tonnes by 2030. Osero said the Lamu port is expected to attract some cargo which would traditionally pass through the Ports of Sudan, Djibouti and Mombasa.
According to the KPA, cargo movement at the Mombasa Port has recorded an average annual growth of 9.4 percent since 2006.
“Ports are principal gateways for about 90 percent of world trade. From bulk cargo, oil and containers to more specialist items, ports connect the cargo carried on ship with the producers of raw materials and finished goods and end users. It is in this light that ports are logistics centers for the entire supply chain, hence the backbone of economic development,” Osero said.
Initially launched in 2012, the Lapsset project also comprises a series of highways linking Kenya to Southern Ethiopia and Southern Sudan.
The series of highways being constructed along the Lapsset corridor have already seen the completion of the Isiolo-Moyale road, a 513-km highway to link Moyale, in Northern Kenya, to Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.
With the highway links to the neighboring states currently under construction as part of the corridor, the authorities in the region expect faster economic development and better trade facilitation across the East African region.