Economy

Kenya Parliament pushes for faster completion of Lamu port link

Lamu-port

The port of Lamu: Kenya Parliament on Wednesday called for speedy implementation of the Sh1.5 trillion Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport corridor (Lapsset) project ahead of the drilling of oil in Turkana County. FILE

Kenya Parliament on Wednesday called for speedy implementation of the Sh1.5 trillion Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport corridor (Lapsset) project ahead of the drilling of oil in Turkana County.

The call comes as South Sudan seeks an alternative outlet to the outside world as war with its Sudan neighbour looms.

The House told the government to speed up enactment of amendments to the Energy and Mineral Exploration Acts before exploitation of oil and other minerals such as coal and iron ore in Kitui, among others, “to ensure that local communities benefit,” in light of the transition to county governments.

However, a section of MPs from North Eastern, Eastern, parts of the Rift Valley, Nyanza and Coast provinces accused President Kibaki’s administration of sidelining their areas in terms of infrastructural development.

But Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka who initiated debate on the President’s State of the Nation Address urged legislators to exhibit nationalism saying areas that have been historically marginalised will be brought at par through the Equalisation Fund.

The Constitution requires that 0.5 per cent of the national gross domestic product to be set aside for underdeveloped regions.

“The marginalised areas will get Equalisation Fund for the next 20 years to address the perceived marginalisation. I urge coastal MPs to stand firm and educate the region in line with the provisions of the constitution,” said Mr Kalonzo, who is also the Leader of Government Business in the House.
“Ethiopia is currently land locked after it lost the Asmara port to Eritrea and is looking up to Kenya for the port. This project will open up South Sudan and Turkana to transport newly found oil to the Mombasa port,” he said.

In January, President Kibaki, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and South Sudan President Salva Kirr launched the project that includes a standard gauge railway line from Lamu to Ethiopia through South Sudan and a pipeline to South Sudan.

“Infrastructure development will be the hallmark of Kibaki’s legacy and Lapsset, which is estimated to cost Sh1.5 trillion will open up the entire region benefiting the East African Community integration,” said Higher Education assistant minister Asman Kamama who seconded the Motion.

Forestry assistant minister Josephat Nanok in whose Turkana South constituency Irish firm Tullow Oil plc struck oil a month ago, said that necessary laws be put in place to guide exploitation of the resource to avoid woes that have befallen oil producing countries like the two Sudans, Nigeria and Angola.

“We are demanding as leaders from marginalised areas equity in sharing of the oil resources,” said Mr Nanok.

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