The Lapsset project launched on March 2, 2012, has been facing challenges that include financing and lack of good political goodwill
The three states agreed to initiate dialogue between Lapsset footprint States towards a shared approach and support the establishment of an umbrella body to coordinate the implementation of the corridor
Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan on Tuesday signed a n agremment to fast-track the implementation of the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transit (Lapsset) Corridor project.
The project, launched on March 2, 2012 by the then Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, and South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, has faced challenges that include financing and lack of political goodwill.
However, on Tuesday, Kenya’s Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, Ethiopian Ambassador to Kenya Meles Alam and South Sudan’s Undersecretary in the Ministry of Transport Captain David Martin signed an MoU to signify the three states’ commitment in supporting the revitalization of the project.
ODM leader Raila Odinga, who is also the African Union (AU) High Representative for Infrastructure oversaw the signing of the MoU at Whitesands Hotel Mombasa.
Odinga said the signing of the document gave the project the implementation impetus.
He said the Lapsset Project was in June 2015 endorsed as a Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative Project during the AU-Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“Today’s occasion is a conclusion of meeting of technical committee that has been meeting at here in Mombasa. This meeting was convened under the auspice of Africa Union and it was basically to give this project (Lapsset) the impetus that it can be implemented quickly,” said Odinga.
Odinga said Ethiopia, South Sudan and Kenya have committed to support the project.
He said Phase II of the project would be a road network connecting East Africa to West Africa dubbed, East-West Trans-Continental Beltway, which connects Lamu Port to Douala/Kribi (Cameroon) seaports via Juba and Bangui.
The three states agreed to initiate dialogue to ensure a shared approach and support establishment of an umbrella body to coordinate implementation.
A Steering Committee composed of representatives from Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, UNECA, AUDA-NEPAD and AfDB will be tasked to establish the umbrella body.
Alam said there was suspicion that Ethiopia might back-track from the Lapsset project after singing a peace deal with Eritrea.
However, he said his presence during the Mombasa meeting testifies the full commitment the Ethiopian government has towards implementation of this project.
“Within Ethiopia, we have constructed over 500 kilometres of tarmac road from Moyale, which is part of the Lapsset project. We have also built industrial zones in the Southern parts of Ethiopia,” he said.
He said they are looking forward for the inauguration of the first berth of the Lamu Port.
“Ethiopia is a very big country of over 100 million population, growing at a double digit over the past few years. The Southern part of Ethiopia depends on the Lamu Port, it is an ideal project for that region,” said Alam.
South Sudan’s Undersecretary in the Ministry of Transport said they are highly committed in the Lapsset project.
“South Sudan is highly committed in the project. We are doing a 300 kilometre road from Juba towards the north to Cameroon. Afterwards, the road will be done Southwards towards Kenya,” he said.
Macharia said the Lamu Port will be commissioned anytime soon.
“Lamu Port is a regional project that was launched by head of states in March 2012. We want to go back there with Head of States from Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan. South Africa also wants to come and witness the launch of the project,” said Macharia.
He said next month they expect a large ship from Mersk Shipping Line to dock at the Lamu Port.