About Mr. Silvester Kasuku
Mr. Silvester Kasuku, MBS, CMILT, is the Director General of the LAPSSET Corridor Development Authority. As LAPSSET Director General, he is in charge of planning, coordinating and managing the implementation of the LAPSSET Corridor’s 7 Infrastructure Project Components. Until February 2013, Mr. Kasuku served as the Secretary for Infrastructure and for the LAPSSET Corridor Project Secretariat at the Office of the Prime Minister. From 2003-2013, he lectured in the University of Nairobi’s School of the Built Environment. Throughout his career, Mr. Kasuku has held a variety of academic, consultant and policy advisory roles including Technical Advisor on National Transport Policy.
We interviewed Mr. Kasuku on the 22nd of July 2014 in his office in Chester House in Nairobi’s Central Business District. He was generous with his time and as he squeezed us into an intensely busy schedule. By the time we completed the interview, it was almost 5 p.m. and he had not even had time for a snack much less a lunch break that day.
Despite the important role which he plays in East African development, we found Mr. Kasuku a modest man who shuns the spotlight. Describing himself as a technocrat, Mr. Kasuku kept the focus of our interview firmly on LAPSEET shying away from any personal discussion. Nonetheless, Mr. Kasuku could not conceal his passion for infrastructure or his excitement about the potential for LAPSSET to spur unprecedented development. He declared that LAPSSET will lead to a decline in poverty and unemployment by establishing infrastructure in long overlooked parts of the region.
KE: Will you please tell our readers about the LAPSSET Corridor Development Authority?
SK: The LAPSSET (Lamu Port, South Sudan Ethiopia Transport) Corridor Development Authority is a government agency under the Office of the President of the Republic of Kenya. Established in 2013, its serves as the operational coordination and technical oversight organ for the LAPSSET Corridor Project. Its mandate is to establish an integrated implementation plan for the project. The 7 components of the LAPPSET Corridor are (1) Lamu Port; (2) railway and road networks connecting South Sudan and Ethiopia to Lamu Port; (3) airports; (4) crude oil pipelines from South Sudan, Uganda and Kenya; (5) oil fields to Lamu Port; (6) a refinery and (7) resort cities.
LAPSSET is a coordination authority and for it to deliver, it relies on certain leverages. . . [LAPSSET] receives coordination from certain ministries like the Ministries of Transport and Infrastructure and Energy. . . LAPSSET, being under the Office of the President, aims at planning and running the corridor projects in partnership with agencies and ministries, mobilising resources received from government through treasury, providing direction and guidance in operations, and overseeing all decisions to be implemented through the agencies involved in delivery of services. . . The corridor development is set to contribute over half of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and statistics show that the project will bring between 2-3% of GDP into the economy.
KE: How is LAPSSET implemented?
Mr. Kasuku made it very clear that the 7 LAPSSET projects must be implemented in a specific order as some projects must be completed in order for the construction of others to begin. This planning is fundamental to LAPSSET’s success and speaks to the need of having an expert experienced in a variety of infrastructure fields coordinating the program.
SK: The LAPSSET roads will be developed by the government and private sector under Profit Oil. The roads may be opened for private sector operations and maintenance once traffic reaches optimal levels for attractive to private sector investment. The Kenyan government will develop the first 3 berths of the Lamu Port which will offer an incentive to private sector participation in the port operations and investment in the rest of the 29 berths.
The South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya crude oil pipeline project will be developed through an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC-F) to enable the private sector to take a lead in the delivery of the project. Expression of interest for the tender for the development of the pipeline will be announced in due course.
The oil refinery, airport, resort cities will be carried out by the private sector to take advantages that exist in these investments. The government will only provide facilitation to private sector investors. Railways will be developed by government and operated and maintained by private sector.
KE: What is the status of implementing the port plan?
SK: The Detailed Engineering Designs for the first 3 berths and the associated infrastructure are completed. The tender is done, and the contractor and supervision consultant are appointed. . .As it is a tourist attraction site, the government initiated a program to undertake construction of a 4 storey administrative building to house the port, pipeline, power station and resorts.
A power station for 240 megawatts (MW) will supply power to Lamu Port. A security facility has also been constructed to manage the operations at the port.The port will have a total of 32 berths planned with each berth having an estimated key length of 400 metres (m) and a draft of 17.5 to 18 m to cost USD 5 billion. The first 3 berths to be constructed will attract private sector investors for port operations and construction of the remaining 29 berths. The project will be completed in 5 years from the commencement date.
KE: What is the status of road construction?
SK: Currently, we are constructing a 505 km road between Isiolo and Moyale on the Kenyan side with 4 contracts in place. The first contract road of 136 km between Isiolo-Merille River, is complete. Between Merille River-Marsabit-Turbi-Moyale, construction is on with different contracts on set with a time limit of 3 years.
Construction is not only happening on the Kenyan side but also in Ethiopia whereby a 500 km road is already taking place with 6 contracts set.
Between Lamu-Garissa-Isiolo-Lokichar-Nadapal Road, design work is in progress with 3 different consultants supported by the African Development Bank and the government of Kenya. For the border between Lokichar and Nadapal, design work is complete and the government is seeking funds and development partnerships with the World Bank who play a big role in providing funds for the construction works.
The construction of these roads will enhance integration in a unique way.
KE: Tell us more about the oil pipelines.
SK: This is a fast track project as recently the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum announced for consultancy to undertake preliminary engineering design of the crude oil pipeline, which is set to be completed early this year or next year. After this, the government will move to tender for the crude oil pipeline in the first quarter of next year. The 3 countries (Kenya, South Sudan and Uganda) have undertaken the commercialization plan on how the pipeline will be pumped. In this case, the Lokichar to Lamu crude oil pipelines will be the trunk crude pipeline to accommodate crude oil from Uganda and South Sudan. A crude oil terminal tank will, therefore, be built at Lokichar and Lamu to handle the logistics of pumping crude oil through the pipeline as well as loading into ships for export. This will increase the volume of the crude oil to be pumped within the 3 countries. South Sudan and Kenya governments will organize admission of the Uganda crude oil pipeline into the LAPSSET corridor crude oil pipeline project.
KE: Recently the budget was read and infrastructure as a whole received a good boost from it. LAPSSET has also attracted investors from all over the world, is the project financially set for kick-off or is provision not enough still?
SK: There is enough money to carry out all the projects through the provision of KES 9.4 billion from the government. In 2011, the government paid KES 1.98 billion to a Japanese consultancy firm for consultancy services within the Ministry of Transport. In 2011-2012, KES 1.75 billion was allocated for construction of the Lamu Port which is already complete. Between 2012 and 2014, Kenya Ports Authority received a total of KES 5.7 billion in bits for commencement of operations.
KE: What roles do engineers play in the LAPSSET projects?
SK: In LAPSSET projects, engineers play a major role especially in undertaking design and supervision of the various projects. They offer advice as consultants on certain materials to use especially on engineering construction.
KE: The Standard Gauge Railway will be a great achievement for Kenya. What are your thoughts on this project?
SK: This is a major infrastructural engineering project that is seen to be worthy of honouring in Kenya’s 50 years of independence. It will catalyze the socio-political and economic status of Kenya in terms technological development. It will increase GDP by at least 1.5 % per annum. It will see the speed of passenger commuter trains improve to about 120 km per hour and that of cargo to about 80 km per hour compared to the current 40 km. It will also ease congestion at the Port of Mombasa and reduce the cost of transportation in the country and the region.
KE: Do you have a parting shot for our readers?
SK: LAPSSET is a game changer project that will see Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan enjoy regional integration benefit.