ONCOURSE

Ethiopia conflict has not affected LAPSSET project – CS Adan

Most of the infrastructure is being done on the Kenyan side, he says.

In Summary

•Kenya has so far invested about Sh40 billion in the construction of the first three berths, with the facility currently operational.

•In June this year, Kenya sent a delegation to Addis Ababa, led by AU representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa Raila Odinga, to pitch for Lamu Port.

President Uhuru Kenyatta during the commissioning of the 114km Garsen-Lamu Road, part of the LAPSSET Corridor/
President Uhuru Kenyatta during the commissioning of the 114km Garsen-Lamu Road, part of the LAPSSET Corridor/
Image: PSCU

The conflict in Ethiopia has not affected the Lamu Port-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (Lapsset), Kenya's East African Community and Regional Development ministry has said.

Instead, it has created an opportunity for Kenya to offer Ethiopia an alternative import route in instances of disruption on its main trade corridor with neighbouring countries.

This is mainly Djibouti through which up to 90 per cent of its international trade (goods) pass through. 

According to CS Adan Mohamed, a larger part of the project is in Kenya including the Lamu Port hence the implementation of the Sh2.5 trillion project remains on course undisrupted.  

"Most of the infrastructure is being done on our side and what we are giving Ethiopia is an alternative trade corridor," CS Mohamed told the Star in a telephone interview on Friday.

He, however, called for peace noting that the war has an adverse effect on trade.

"We hope and pray that peace prevails and everybody gets back to normality. This is much important because if things are bad, nobody will use our port," Mohamed said. 

The fighting between Tigray forces and the Ethiopia-Eritrea-Amhara alliance has lasted a year,  where lives have been lost with normal businesses disrupted.

Together with South Sudan, the northern neighbour is a key partner in the Lapsset project launched in 2012 during former President Mwai Kibaki's regime.

Kenya has so far invested about Sh40 billion in the construction of the first three berths, with the facility currently operational.

The mega project has previously been marred with cash constraints and lack of political good-will which has slowed down its implementation.

Kenya had in June this year sent a delegation to Addis Ababa, led by AU representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa Raila Odinga, to pitch for Lamu Port.

The meeting culminated with the establishment of a Steering Committee for the Lapsset Corridor project involving Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan.

“This further deepens the corporation among these three countries in the implementation of the Lapsset Corridor project,” the Lapsset Authority had said.

Member states' ministers adopted 'Terms of Reference' for the Steering Committee and Technical Committee to support the fast-tracking of the implementation of the Lapsset project.

“The coming together of Kenya, Ethiopia and South-Sudan to develope the corridor is an enable towards the mutual social-economic development and integration of our people and the continent,” Mohamed said.

Lapsset creates the second major transport and transit corridor in the country, after the Northern Corridor, which is a multi-modal trade route linking the landlocked countries of the Great Lakes Region with the Port of Mombasa.

To support the development of the Lapsset project, National Treasury allocated an additional Sh 7.5 billion in the current financial year ending June 2022.

This adds up to a previous allocation of Sh21 billion in two tranches of Sh10 billion and Sh11 billion.

The government is also pushing to make Lamu Port a transhipment hub.

This is the shipment of goods or containers to an intermediate destination, then to another destination.

One possible reason for transshipment is to change the means of transport during the journey, known as transloading.

“Our current focus is to make Lamu a free port for both domestic and trans-shipment purposes,” Treasury CS Ukur Yatani said during his budget statement in June.

The wider Lapsset project is planned to have a railway line, pipeline and highway connecting the three countries.

The project will also see the construction of an oil refinery, three airports including the expansion of Manda airstrip in Lamu and construction of resort cities in Lamu, Isiolo and Lake Turkana shores.

Last year, state officials from the three countries met in Mombasa where they renewed their commitment to the corridor.

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 to supporting the revitalization of the project.

The Lapsset corridor route to Ethiopia is via the Lamu- Garissa (257km)- Garissa-Isiolo (280km) and Isiolo- Moyale (502km) Road.

Currently Lamu Port connects to Ethiopia through 1,425km of road via the Lamu-Garsen-Garissa-Kilimambogo-Isiolo-Moyale (Ethiopia border) route.

To support cross-border trade, Kenya and Ethiopia in September this year signed an operations manual for the Moyale One Stop Border Post, which was commissioned on December 9, 2020.

Operations at the facility commenced on  June 8, 2021.

The manual is aimed at guiding government officers and regulatory agencies in the successful implementation of coordinated border management operations.

The two countries are also keen on coming up with favourable tariffs to support trade.

Last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta appealed to Ethiopia to bring the year-long conflict to an end.