NAIROBI (Xinhua) — Four of the most critical infrastructure projects under Kenya’s Lamu Port scheme are planned to be completed in the next five years to facilitate long term development of the whole project that is planned to be completed in 20 years.

The Infrastructure Secretary at the office of the Prime Minister (of Kenya) Silvester Kasuku said the five projects include roads serving the proposed port, a railway line, a pipeline and the three out of the planned 32 berths where ships are secured. “The construction of the road serving the site of the project has started and we already have 100 MW generator that will provide electricity.

The intention is to fast track these ‘fast deliveries’ so that they can facilitate gradual development of the rest of the port infrastructure,” Kasuku told journalists in Nairobi on Monday. The pipeline running from Lamu to South Sudan is expected to take a maximum of 18 months with delays in export of the country’s crude oil, after diplomatic spat with Khartoum halted use of the pipeline running to Port Sudan, expected to end.

Kasuku said some multinational companies have already started doing a feasibility study on the proposed pipeline in preparation for tendering the project, indicating broad support from global private sector. In January, Kenya and South Sudan signed the pipeline deal that will grant Kenya four percent of the net income from the oil export for hosting the pipeline.

The ground breaking ceremony for Lamu Port will be on Friday. Presidents Mwai Kibaki (of Kenya), Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Ethiopian President Meles Zenawi and South Sudan President Salva Kiir are expected to attend. Ethiopia and South Sudan are expected to be among the major beneficiaries of Lamu Port because they are landlocked and have hostile neighbors who control existing access to the Indian Ocean through the Red Sea.

“All the preparatory work has been completed. What we are now working on is the resettlement plan for those who will be displaced by the project,” Kasuku said. The government made compulsory acquisition of the extra land required for the project from the owners although the majority of the project will be done on the land already previously owned by the government.

The railway line, roads and the resort cities that are part of the Lamu Port are expected to open respective southern regions of the two countries that are underutilized because of lack of infrastructure. “A country like Ethiopia has told us that they want to grow sugarcane in southern region so that it can be processed into power alcohol for export utilizing the rail line and the pipeline,” said Kasuku.

The Lamu Port project, officially known as Lamu-Southern Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET), has seven components that include construction of the Lamu Port at the Manda Bay, construction of railway line from Lamu to Isiolo, Isiolo to South Sudan, and Isiolo to Ethiopia, construction of airports at Isiolo, Lamu and Lake Turkana and construction of highway from Lamu to Isiolo, Isiolo to South Sudan, and Isiolo to Ethiopia.

Other components include construction of resort cities at Lamu, Isiolo and Lake Turkana; construction of an oil refinery at Lamu; and construction of an oil pipeline from Lamu to Isiolo, Isiolo to South Sudan, and Isiolo to Ethiopia. The projects including a new rail line, a refinery, and an oil pipeline are part of the country’s Vision 2030, the blue print to enable Kenya achieve newly advanced and middle income status.

The new transport corridor, whose main works is expected to take up to 30 years to be fully completed, is expected to increase Kenya’s economic growth rate from about 6 percent to over 10 percent. The project is expected to promote regional socio-economic development along the transport corridor, especially in the northern, eastern, northeastern and coastal parts of Kenya, areas considered as economically marginalized. It will also open up remote areas of South Sudan and Ethiopia.

It is expected to accelerate the economic integration of the region and promote closer diplomatic relations driven by shared trade interests. According to (Kenya’s) ministry of transport, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan are expected to account for around 21 percent, percent and 46 percent of the total freight transport volume that includes the crude oil transmission volume. The project is expected to accelerate the economic integration of the region and promote closer diplomatic relations driven by shared trade interests. (Xinhua)

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