The government will allocate a further Sh10 billion for construction of the first three berths at Lamu port in the next financial year, Transport Principal Secretary Irungu Nyakera has said.
When the project started in the 2016/1017 financial year, it was also allocated Sh10 billion.
Mr Nyakera said the works were progressing well slightly ahead of schedule at 12.5 per cent against a projected 12 per cent since construction kicked off with offices for the headquarters already complete.
“Construction of the three berths will be completed in late 2018 ready to receive the first vessel in 2019. Our objective in building the berths is to open the project to private investors.
“Initially, some people raised concerns over the viability of this project but as you can see it is progressing well,” he said.
Mr Nyakera said to ensure proper evacuation of cargo from the port; the government was fast-tracking construction of the 115-kilometre Lamu-Witu-Garsen and Lamu-Garisa-Isiolo roads whose contracts had been awarded.
He spoke on Friday at the Lamu port headquarters after a joint meeting between the Lapsset Authority and Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) boards held their first joint parley and took a tour of the project to assess its progress.
Currently, a contractor is dredging the harbour to a depth of 18 metres and reclaiming part of the ocean where the container stacking yard will be located.
The port is projected to be one of the biggest in Africa, receiving post panamax vessels with a capacity of 19,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) owing to the deep waters, allowing KPA to do trans-shipment business.
Mombasa port can accommodate vessels of up to 6,000 TEUs.
Lapsset Authority Executive Officer Silvester Kasuku said the meeting of the two boards was intended to harmonise operations of the pair in readiness for completion of the facility.
The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Managing Director Catherine Mturi-Wairi said the authority had put into place measures to ensure management of the port was smooth.
The Lamu Port is part of the Sh2 trillion South Sudan and Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor, expected to open up the northern part of the country and contribute at least 1.5 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Construction of the three berths is expected to take five years with the entire port planned to have a total of 22 berths. The port will cater for the Ethiopian market, currently served by Djibouti port and South Sudan, which relies on Port Sudan.
The Lapsset project has other components including a super highway that will connect Lamu to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Juba in Southern Sudan.
The three regions will also be connected with a standard gauge railway.