Lamu becoming concrete
Growth in trade is being predicted for Africa south of the Sahara from various quarters. This will require the appropriate infrastructure. The Kenyan port of Lamu, which should also relieve Mombasa, will have three new berths from mid-2018 – thanks to Chinese investment.
Kenya’s Lamu corridor is considered an important trade route that could relieve the port of Mombasa and connect landlocked African countries to the Indian Ocean. The project was launched in August 2014, when the Kenya Ports Authority and die China Communication Construction Company sealed a deal worth USD 479 million for the building of three berths in Lamu (see also page 27 of ITJ 31-34 / 2014). The first phase is set to come to an end this year and thus goods may well start to pass through the gateway soon.
Linking landlocked countries to the sea
Innovations often have to bear the burden of a rather long name as well as a concomitantly lengthy acronym. This pan-East African enterprise – called the Lamu Port–South Sudan–Ethiopia Transport project (Lapsset) – is no different. It includes a motorway connecting Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia; international airports; as well as – one of the corridor’s core elements – the expansion of the port of Lamu. Northern Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia will thus gain direct access to maritime trade routes.
The plan envisages building 21 additional berths in the port of Lamu by 2030. This will help to relieve the 18 berths at the port of Mombasa, in southern Kenya, which frequently cannot cope with demand. Over and above this, modern infrastructure will also allow the port of Lamu to handle today’s large ships.
The building site, managed by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) is huge, with each stage of the project representing a major undertaking. The quays are being built around 700 m from the shore of the Indian Ocean, which requires additional work. The berths are 1.2 km long and 750 m wide. The CRBC is also excavating the port’s basins and ensuring that the water alongside the berths is 17.5 m deep, to accommodate large vessels.
Final opening date not set yet
The managers encountered some difficulties finding private investors to finance the project; on top of this, Kenyan authorities’ statements concerning the port’s opening have been vague. Transport minister James Macharia has cited June, Lapsset project manager Sylvester Kasuku mid-March. He is even more optimistic for the future. “The second and third row of berths will be completed before the end of 2020.” May the force be with him...