Lapsset: Kenya hits the ground running

The design layout of three berths
KENYA HAS HIT THE ground running in the development of the second transport corridor. The seven component project, popularly known as Lamu Port-South Sudan- Ethiopia Transport corridor, Lapsset, has now entered the tendering stage. The government of Kenya has invited tenders for design and construction of first three of the 32- berth Lamu Port.

 The government funded project will cost an estimated  US$200 million. This figure has provided for allocated in the current (2012/2013) fiscal year’s budget.

Apart from this, the Kenyan president, Mwai Kibaki, is globe- trotting marketing Lapsset and the Konza Technocity to the world.

 The advertised tender is for the construction of one general cargo berth, one bulk cargo and a container berth at Manda Bay, Lamu. All will be dredged to depth of 18.5 Metres. Other works include; construction of a 113 Ha hard standing yard, Construction of; internal roads, Administration buildings, slipways and workshops for small crafts, and associated infrastructure such as water supply, storage and reticulation; Power and ICT infrastructure.

The three berths will be used to transport materials for the construction of other components of the Lamu South Sudan- Ethiopia Transport corridor (LAPSSET)\. These include; a high speed railway line,  a highway, a 1,260 KM of crude oil pipeline, a 980KM white oils pipeline, a 120,000 bpd refinery, a 32- berth sea port, three resort cities and two international airports.

Eliye Springs in Turkana One of the three Resort cities
The need for the development of a second transport corridor serve landlocked East Africa has been on the card for some time.  The two existing ports; namely the 26 berth Mombasa Port and the 10 berth Dar-es-salaam port, cannot cope with exports and imports activity in the region.

Consequently a number of proposals to remove this bottle neck were floated. Among these is the development of alternative transport corridors or improvement of the existing ones. The proposed routes include LAPSSET, the Juba- Gulu Kampala-Nairobi-Mombasa line, the Dar-Es-salaam-Isaka- Kigali- Bujumbura Railway Line, and the Tanga- Musoma –Uganda line.

Of the four alternatives, only Lapsset looks viable from an economic standpoint. It will serve an estimated 100 million people in Northern Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan. The US$23 billion project, arguably the largest business venture in Africa, was further boosted when South Sudan chose Kenya as its transport and communications gateway. (see

South Sudan announced that it will build the 1, 230 KM crude oil Pipeline from its oil wells into Lamu Port at a cost of US$4billion. However, with the discovery of promising crude oil reserves in Turkana County in Kenya, the agreement is likely to be reviewed so that Kenya also chips in. Kenya, reports say, will spend an estimated 16 per cent of its national budget over the next five years or so to develop the corridor. Once complete, the project will raise Kenya’s GDP by more than ten per cent a year. (see

What’s more, compared to its competition, Lapsset has the potential to become the gateway to Africa as it is the beginning of Equatorial land Bridge. The Bridge, say experts, will link the Port of Lamu on the Indian Ocean to the East to the Port of Doula in Cameroon on the Atlantic Ocean to the West. Such a link will cut freight travel time by at least two to three weeks and increase shipping lines’ turn-around times and hence their revenue, say experts.

These developments have put the viability and development of the other corridors in doubt, analysts say.  This is because the construction of the Lamu port with its 32-berths will ease pressure on the 26- berth Mombasa Port making it more efficient. Since the Mombasa –Nairobi- Kampala railway line is being upgraded to accommodate high speed trains, other corridors whose aim to ease pressure on Mombasa become unviable.

Among the corridors whose viability is now in doubt are; the proposed Juba-Gulu Railway line and the Tanga-Musoma-Uganda corridor.  Reduced traffic volumes do not justify the development of such corridors for the time being.


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