President Mwai Kibaki has today launched the construction of a massive port, railway and refinery – The LAPSSET corridor.  President Mwai Kibaki, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir unveiled a plaque at a ceremony to mark the official start of building work in Lamu.

 

Addressing the gathering, President Kibaki reiterated the need for cooperation between the three countries, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya. He cautioned the locals against incitement from quarters that are opposed to the project. He further echoed the prime minister sentiment that any local that will be affected with the construction of the multi billion project will fully be compensated according to laws of Kenya. He finally appealed for all the involved parties to play their role to ensure that the project is a success.

The two visiting heads of state talked of good bilateral trade, social and political cooperation that their countries have enjoyed with Kenya. The prime minister of Ethiopia mentioned of the plans of the Ethiopian government to inject the Kenya National power grid with up to 1000Mw on the other hand the President of South Sudan praised Kenya of her role during their struggle for independence. Mr. Salvar Kiir noted that the North, Republic of Sudan was not happy with her efforts to channel her oil through the Lamu port .
The Prime Minister Raila Odinga and the Vice president Kalonzo Musyoka, in their addresses called for maximum cooperation from the local leaders and urged the residents to embrace peace and tranquillity.  Earlier in the week Civil Societies that are opposed to the port development had mobilised the residents of Lamu to demonstrate to show their dissatisfaction to the government.
The ceremony was also graced by all members of parliament in Lamu county, led by the minister of Trade and Development Mr. Amos Kimunya.  The government agencies that will implement the project includes Kenya Maritime Authority, Kenya Ports Authority, Kenya National Highway Authority, Ministry of Transport, The treasury among others.
Amos Kimunya, Minister of Trade and Industry observed that the  $24.5 billion  project will turn Kenya into a regional economic hub and propel it to become a middle-income economy in the next two decades.
The launch was full of pop and colour. Dancers and singers marked the formal start of construction at the inauguration. Most of the area that was heavily covered by pristine mangrove forest is already being cleared. The national youth service are continuing to erect a parameter wall around the area.
The port to be constructed with 32 berths and be connected to Ethiopia and oil-rich South Sudan by a super-highway, a railway and a pipeline to export Juba’s crude. The project is expected to be funded by regional financial institutions, governments and international lenders, with China believed to have major stake.
“The demands for the rights of Lamu people have fallen on deaf ears,” said a statement by Save Lamu, a coalition of local community groups in Lamu.
“We are greatly concerned that the lack of transparency, secrecy and poor accountability in the way the project is being implemented is a dismal reflection of our rights as governed by the constitution,” it added.
Conservationists fear that monster earth movers and dredgers will destroy the mangroves and plough ship channels through coral reefs that are crucial fish breeding grounds.
“We’ll be losing a certain percentage of our coral reefs, and we’ll be losing our pristine beaches to some extent, and also the fishing and breeding grounds for turtles,” said Atwaa Salim Mohamed of the Lamu Marine Conservation Trust.

 

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