The first of the three berths at the new Sh48 billion port in Lamu is expected to be ready by mid-March next year.
The Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (Lapsset) Corridor project development authority director-general Sylvester Kasuku said the anchor project will beat deadline with the second and third berths set to be complete by December, 2020.
Kenyan government is spearheading the project to link landlocked South Sudan and Ethiopia to the Indian Ocean by constructing a major highway, a railway and an oil pipeline.
“It is going to unlock latent economic potential covering about 70 per cent of Kenya’s land space located in the larger northern parts of Kenya,” Mr Kasuku said.
“Heavy machinery for the construction of the causeway linking up the main land and port terminals for cargo transport channel are on site,” he added.
The Lamu corridor is viewed as a viable trade route that will help decongest the Mombasa port.
The plan is to construct a total of 21 berths at the Lamu port by 2030, compared to 18 in Mombasa, where ageing infrastructure hinders the port’s ability to handle large ships and trade activity.
The berths will be able to accommodate crude oil carriers with dead weight tonnage of up to 200,000 tonnes and a capacity of two million barrels of oil.
National Land Commission chairman Muhammad Swazuri said the commission had played a major role in land acquisition and compensation criticism on land matters around the Lapsset project.
“The government has already set aside 70,000 acres of land for the project,” he said adding that “no one whose land will be taken away for this projects will be left without compensation.”
Dr Swazuri said the government will use land rather than cash to compensate property owners along the Lapsset corridor from Lamu to Moyale.
The port plan has been plagued by controversial in Lamu.
Environmentalists say the project will destroy delicate marine life and choke coral reefs and mangroves.
The government says it has been sensitive to environmental concerns, though it concedes no large-scale infrastructure project can leave natural surroundings untouched.