Plans for the Lamu - Garissa highway have kicked off as the transport corridor to connect Kenya to Ethiopia and South Sudan starts to take shape.
The Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) is seeking environmental approval for the project that will cost Sh38 billion, funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The 250 kilometre road is the second major component of the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia (Lapsset) transport corridor after the ongoing construction of three berths at the port.
“The project road, Lamu – Garissa road, forms the initial part of Lapsset corridor,” an audit submitted to the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) says.
“The project road will be a gateway to the Lapsset corridor which will provide connectivity to other parts of Kenya through railway and highway.”
The highway has a width of 100 metres, will have two lanes but could in future be expanded to four or six lanes.
A lane width of 3.5 metres and the shoulder width of two metres are the proposals for its design.
It is expected to pass near wildlife sanctuaries, so eight animal crossings will be built along the five major wildlife and forest corridors for safety of animals.
“Safety fences have been proposed over certain lengths before and after the crossing points to prevent animals straying into the road. It is also recommended to provide safety fence at these five corridors all along the road length passing by the side of the sanctuary or forests areas with openings only at animal cross-over locations.”
Unlike the Standard Gauge Railway where the railway is elevated, allowing animals passing below, in this case, the animal passages will run over the corridor.
The Lapsset corridor which runs from Lamu Port is expected to include other components like a railway line and an oil pipeline.
It will offer an alternative to the Northern corridor, which is anchored by the Mombasa port.
It is designed to improve connectivity and trade with Kenya’s northern neighbours but also open up the northern frontier.
“The project also intends to promote dynamic regional socio-economic development along the transport corridor especially in the Northern, Eastern, North-Eastern and Coastal parts of Kenya,” the Nema report adds.
Three berths at Lamu Port are being constructed at a cost of Sh48 billion with the first expected to be completed in March 2018.