The year 2019 is promising for Lamu residents who are looking forward to the realisation of various mega infrastructure projects that are set to boost shipping in the region.
Projects such as the Sh10.8 billion Lamu-Garsen Road, the Sh1.1 billion Mokowe Urban Road, and the first berth at the new Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor at Kililana in Lamu West are set to be completed before the end of this year.
Other projects like the Sh60 billion Lamu-Garissa-Isiolo road and the Sh649 million jetties construction are also set to be launched early this year.
The projects are viewed as key infrastructural components that have ability to uplift Lamu’s profile especially on matters economy, trade, industry and employment of locals in the county which was previously marginalised by successive government regimes.
The projects are expected to transform the region both economically and socially.
The Sh10.8 billion Lamu-Garsen Road, which is over 20 per cent complete, is set to be ready by December 31.
The 135 kilometre road, which is sponsored by the national government, is being undertaken by H-Young Company.
The project is set to open up Lamu to the rest of Kenya. Once complete, the road will also play a major role of improving the security of travellers plying the route. In the past terrorists have exploited the poor road network in the region to attack security officers and travellers. “We are happy that by the end of this year we will have a modern road which is fully tarmacked as promised. The ongoing construction has already helped in reducing Al-Shabaab attacks. Nowadays, security is tight along the road and we thank the government for that,” said Said Swaleh, a conductor with the Tawakal Bus Company Services.
The first LAPSSET berth in Kililana is another key project set to be ready by June. This is a mega project expected to be a massive economic game-changer in Lamu and the entire Northern Kenya. In a recent interview with Shipping, LAPSSET Corridor Development Authority CEO Silvestre Kasuku said they were confident that the first ship will dock at Lamu Port shortly after the first berth is completed in June.
“We are committed and we’ll ensure the LAPSSET is delivered on time. The upcoming Lamu Port is a bankable investment which will revolutionise trade and the economic scales of not just Lamu but Kenya as a whole,” said Mr Kasuku. Another project set to be completed this year and which has already brought some positive impact to Lamu people is the ongoing construction of the Sh1.1 billion Mokowe Urban Road which is now almost 30 per cent complete.
The 15 kilometre road project is being undertaken by the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA). In an interview with Shipping on Tuesday, KURA Assistant Corporate Communications Director John Cheboi said the project will be completed in November.
The road is expected to link public facilities, improve security in the region and facilitate easy access to county headquarters at Mokowe.
It is also scheduled to transform Mokowe village into a modern urban town matching its upcoming status as the host to Kenya’s second port.
“The road project has so far brought with it lots of socio-economic and development prospects for the locals in Mokowe and Lamu as a whole. We have employed more than 100 youth who previously had no job,” said Mr Cheboi.
The government is also set to kick-start the construction of four jetties in Lamu this month.
Jetties are a crucial element of Lamu’s transport system since they are the main entry and exit points to Lamu town and adjacent islands.
Most jetties in the county are delapidated due a lack of maintenance.
Public Works Principal Secretary Paul Maringa recently said the government plans to start construction this month.
Woork was set to start last November but was delayed by tendering.
“We had to take enough time to do the tendering and to solicit the appropriate contractor as per required standards. We expect to start work in two to three weeks,” said Mr Maringa.
The four jetties set for construction include the Mokowe Customs Jetty which was allocated Sh520 million, Mtangawanda Jetty allocated Sh62 million, Manda Airport Jetty Sh35 million and Mangrove Terminal Jetty Sh32 million.
Construction of the 530 kilometre Lamu-Garissa-Isiolo Road is set to start this January.
The Sh60 billion project, which is being undertaken by the Lamu-Isiolo-Road Consortium Limited, is set to promote trade, create employment and boost development.
The road is part of the LAPSSET project components. The road will link Lamu Port to Garissa, Isiolo, Samburu and end at Lokichar in Turkana, where it will join the Eldoret-Juba Highway.
Locals are also upbeat that this year will see progress made in preparation for the proposed Lokichar to Lamu crude oil pipeline project which is set to start in 2022.