Uncertainty as completion date of first Lamu port berth moved again

Lapsset CEO Silvester Kasuku, and other stakeholders, addresses journalists at Lamu port headquarters. FILE/PHOTO.

Lamu, KENYA: The completion of the first berth at the new Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport corridor project-Lapsset has for the umpteenth time been pushed forward to June 2019.

The Lappset is a Sh 2.5 trillion project that is being set up at Kililana area in Lamu West.

Initially, the Lapsset management had announced that the first of the three major berths at the new port site was to be ready and running by December of this year.

However speaking on Thursday, LAPSSET Director General Sylvestre Kasuku said completion of the berth had now been moved to June 2019.

Kasuku said the work on the berth is at a 72% completion rate.

He, however, didn’t disclose reasons as to why the completion date of the first berth had to be moved from December this year to June 2019.

“We are confident that the completion and operationalization of the first berth will be ready by June 2019 instead of December this year as had earlier been the plan. All the works are on course plus we are paying attention to every detail so that everything turns out to be exactly as it should be. We are working on a giant game changer and must, therefore, maintain sharp focus,”said Kasuku.

He said the first berths in their entirety are at a 55% completion rate and are fully funded by the Kenyan government at a cost of Sh.48 Billion.

The cost includes the physical construction of the three Lapsset terminals plus other activities such as preparation of the turning bay, dredging, and reclamation works as well as navigation of sea waves.

All the three are expected to be ready by the year 2020.

The first berth at the site was initially expected to be completed by June this year.

That date was however pushed forward to December due to unspecified reasons.

The recent revelation of the completion date being pushed to June 2019 leaves many wondering if and when the berth will eventually be completed at all.

Kasuku, however, explained that “We aren’t delaying the completion of the berth, all we are saying is completion remains December this year but operations start in June 2019. Only that by then, dredging and reclamation works shall still be in force for the other two berths which are to be ready by 2020.

Several preliminary and support infrastructure at the port site such as the Sh 866 million Port Headquarters, the Port Police Station, Electric Power Connection to the National Grid and Water Reticulation Network is already complete.

Construction of the Port Management Housing Scheme currently ongoing.

Kasuku said the government was committed to pursuing the development of the appropriate road infrastructure connections that will connect the port to the rest of the LAPSSET corridor as well as other parts of the country and outside.

On August 1 this year, President Uhuru Kenyatta made an impromptu tour to the LAPSSET site in Kililana where he directed contractors of the project to speed up its construction.

The Lappset project plan includes a 32-berth port, transportation hubs for rail, highway and international airports in Lamu, Isiolo and Lodwar, an oil pipeline from South Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia to Lamu Port, an oil refinery and three resort cities in Isiolo, Lamu and Turkana.