MARITIME

Dredging, financing slows Lamu port construction

Construction of the first three berths is 67 per cent compete

In Summary

• The contractor depends on material dredged from the channel to reclaim the sea where the berths are being constructed.

• Inconsistency in the release of funds by the National Treasury has also affected the project.

The ship which is drilling the LAPSSET corridor at Mkanda channel where ships will be passing to and from the port on October 23,2016./ALPHONCE GARI
The ship which is drilling the LAPSSET corridor at Mkanda channel where ships will be passing to and from the port on October 23,2016./ALPHONCE GARI

Slow dredging works and release of funds are dragging the construction of the remaining two of the first three berths at the Lamu Port, the Star has established.

The contractorChina Communication Construction Company(CCCC) is depending on material dredged from the channel to reclaim the sea where the berths are being constructed.

Inconsistency in the release of funds by the National Treasury has also affected the project's progress.

The Chinese firm has been on site since 2015 after securing a $478.9 million (Sh49.7 billion) contract, in August 2014, to construct the first three berths of the planned 32–berth port.

This is under the Sh2.5 trillion Lamu Port-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor(Lapsset) project which has been marred with cash constraints since its launch in 2012 during former President Mwai Kibaki's regime.

“Construction of the two berths depends on dredging of the channel where material used for reclamation comes from dredging. It is a complex process,”Lapsset director general Sylvestre Kasuku yesterday told the Star on phone.

He however said civil works on the first berth, whose construction commenced in 2015, is complete with the facility expected to become operational by December. Overall completion of the berth is at 73 per cent complete.

The first three berths are estimated to cost US$689 million (Sh71.55 billion) where works includes dredging and reclamation, construction of yards, construction of revetment, causeway and road, construction of buildings and utilities, and procurement of equipment and tug boats.

The entire 32 berths are estimated to cost US$3.1 billion (Sh321.9 billion), with the  government counting on private investors and external funding for their remainder of the project.

“The first berth is more or else complete,” Kasuku said, “the progress on the entire three berths is 67 per cent compete.

The first expected to make its maiden docking at the facility by end of this year.

The construction has however been marked with an extended timeline from an initial completion target of July 2018 to December this year, as funding remains a key challenge.

The National Treasury has in the last two financial years allocated Sh21 billion towards Lapsset, with the current fiscal year-2019/19 having a Sh11 billion allocation.

Kasuku yesterday insisted the project is still within timelines. “We are progressing well,” he said.

The Lamu Port is expected to complement the Port of Mombasa, as the country looks forward to handling some of the largest vessels in the world owing to its natural depth.

“Lamu port will be instrumental for transhipment. It is also good to have an laternative port and route,” outgoing Lapsset Development Authority chairman Francis Muthaura said yesterday.

Transnet SOC of South Africa has expressed interest in operating the Lamu port.