THE row over the pace at which the Lamu port project is being implemented has drawn the attention of the project manager who allayed fears that its implementation would take a little longer.
Peter Oremo, an officer in charge of the Lamu Port and Lamu Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor working for the Kenya ports authority said that the project was on good course and within the time frame.
The move came as south Sudanese officials revealed that their patience over the implementation of the project was running out.
New Sudan foundation executive chairman Costello Ring Garang was quoted in a section of the press saying that, “If the speed at which the Kenya government is constructing Lamu port and doing the railway line does not change dramatically, we will seriously consider going to Djibouti.”
Oremo in reaction to the sentiments said that, “Port construction takes years. It takes more than four years to construct a port. Procurement alone takes one full year.”
Oremo added that the, “Oil shipment did not warrant the completion of the whole port project but just a jetty along the ocean.”
He said that fee charged per barrel of oil that passes through Kenya was still part of the negotiations that Kenya and south Sudan are locked in.
“If they decided Djibouti, they are charging $30 per barrel but we are negotiating for a lower fee. So Kenya is the best option for them,’ said Oremo on phone.
The revenue Oremo added will go towards maintenance of roads, and the pipeline.
Oremo also added that a Kenyan delegation to Juba last week Thursday brought back positive results and that the team had finalized on the pipeline route.
“I don’t know where the disquiet is coming from. In fact last Thursday our officers led by Sylvester Kasuku from the office of the Prime Minister were in Juba. What they brought back is fruitful and the project is on courses,” said Oremo.
Oremo added that South Sudan being a new country, their public service is not yet mature and that is why Kenya has to continue pushing them into making necessary agreements concerning the port construction.
Costello Garang in his remarks maintained that Kenya still was the best option as the region’s trade partner in terms of oil exportation but the long and never ending discussions about the project, the slow construction pace worried the new East African state.
Source also intimated to the star that Uganda has been pulling strings as far as south Sudan’s participation into Lamu port project is concerned.
“Ugandans want both the pipeline and the railway from Lamu to pass through their country. They are trying to lure the south Sudan government into that deal. They are giving them an alternative,” said the source who sought anonymity.
The source continued that Ethiopia which has Djibouti as an alternative has not issued any ultimatums and neither have they complained about the pace but as for the south Sudan, Uganda is suspected to be behind the complains.
The $23 billion project was commissioned by Presidents Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Salva Kir of south Sudan and the late Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia in March last year.
The landlocked oil rich south Sudan stands to benefit a lot form the project despite the raging conflict between their northern counterparts over the disputed Abyei region. The government has already drawn up plan and according to Oremo, procurement process are on good courses.