The Transport ministry has said construction of the first section of the Lapsset project is set to start mid-next year.
The first section of the transport corridor is the 530km Lamu-Garissa-Isiolo Highway.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said the Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha), the project’s implementing agency, had entered into an agreement with Lamu Road Consortium comprising Group Five Proprietary Ltd, a South African consortium, and Development Bank of Southern Africa through a public-private partnership to fund the project to the tune of Sh62 billion as the initial capital investment cost.
LACK OF FUNDS
“Kenha is signing an agreement with this consortium to basically kick off the commencement of early works of construction of the Lamu-Garissa-Isiolo Road which is 530km and is part of the 2,000km Lapsset corridor, slated to start by June next year,” Mr Macharia said during the signing of the agreement in Nairobi on Wednesday.
He said that commencement of the works had been delayed by lack of funds and the government opted to go ahead with the commercial agreement before finalising the financial deal later for the entire project.
The CS said the project will take about four years to complete and will be run by Lamu Road Consortium with the operations and maintenance phase to run for a period of 25 years after completion of the project.
The Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor – which is Eastern Africa’s largest and most ambitious infrastructure project and has seven components – was launched in 2013 and has a budget of Sh2 trillion.
Mr Macharia gave an update of sections of the project, saying that the 505km Isiolo-Moyale Road has been completed while construction of Loichangamatak-Nadapal Road was ongoing, same as Garsen-Witu-Lamu Road.
He added that design studies were ongoing for Isiolo-Maralal link road, Isiolo-SukutaMugie-Nginyang’ road and Nginyang’-Lokori-Lokichar road.
Group Five CEO Thambo Mosai said that the partnership was a show of confidence in Kenya and promised to involve local sub-contractors and labourers throughout the project.
“We will utilise Kenyan sub-contractors and labourers in the process just as big companies in South Africa do,” said Mr Mosai.
Lapsset chairman Francis Muthaura hailed the agreement saying that the highway was the second most important outlet that will be able to make it possible to take cargo to the hinterland and neighbouring South Sudan and Ethiopia.
Kenha director-general Peter Mundinia said part of the corridor from Isiolo, Marsabit to Moyale was already paved and ready for use by transporters.