•Sime visited Lamu, Mombasa, Kisumu ports and the Nairobi Inland Container Depot.
•Launched in 2012 during former President Mwai Kibaki's regime, Lapsset has been delayed by cash constraints and lack of political good-will.
Ethiopia has expressed readiness to start using the Port of Lamu in a renewed interest on the Sh2.5 trillion Lamu Port-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor.
This comes as it dismisses claims that the country had intentionally focused more on Djibouti and other northern ports, which affected development of Lapsset.
Ethiopia’s Minister for Transport and Logistics Alemu Sime who this week led a delegation to a five-day working trip in Kenya, said Ethiopia is ready to use the port.
The two countries have also agreed to jointly develop the Lapsset corridor railway, collaborate on resource mobilisation for trans-boundary projects and investments.
Sime who visited Lamu, Mombasa, Kisumu ports and the Nairobi Inland Container Depot, was in the country for an appraisal of the port infrastructure and roads linking Kenua to Ethiopia.
“There is need to expedite completion of supportive infrastructure to fully utilize the port,” Sime said during an engagement with Kenya Ports Authority managing director, captain William Ruto.
He also confirmed that a joint corridor management committee incorporating a team from Ethiopia and Kenya will be formed, to identify challenges encountered with the Lapsset project implementation.
This is enabling the finding of common solutions for speedy completion.
With a population of approximately 130 million, Ethiopia has seen increased cargo volumes and is seeking to diversify the use of port facilities in the East and Horn of Africa, to facilitate the movement of its export and imports.
It sees Lamu as a strategic port to serve the southern region of the country.
Captain Ruto has since committed to have more equipment at Lamu, including three ship-to-shore gantry cranes in 15 months.
Launched in 2012, during former President Mwai Kibaki's regime, the project has been delayed by cash constraints and lack of political goodwill, which has slowed down its implementation.
The Kenya government has however developed three berths at a cost of Sh40 billion, with the port becoming operational in May 2021.
Road infrastructure has also taken shape with the 500-kilometre road from Isiolo to Moyale, as well as the 500-kilometer road from Moyale to Hawasa, completed.
Ethiopia has upgraded the road from Hawassa to Addis Ababa into a motorway, easing movement of traffic.
It has kicked off the establishment of agro-processing industrial zones along the corridor, such as sugar industrial investment.
Mining concessions are also looking to export materials from Ethiopia through Lamu Port.
These developments come as a plus for Kenya’s second major sea port which also has backing of South Sudan, which has developed a strategic plan for related projects.
It has identified 16 projects that include road networks, the design and construction of the Lapsset Corridor Road and power projects, whose implementation is waiting funding.