By PATRICK BEJA
Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) is pressing ahead with the long awaited development of a free port in Mombasa despite fears the Government’s focus on the new Lamu port might stall the Dongo Kundu project.
Dock Workers Union (DWU) – the umbrella port workers union – had expressed fears early this year that the project seeking to establish a 24-hour port operated on the lines of the Dubai Free Port concept might stall due to the focus on Lamu Port.
DWU general secretary Simon Sang said the union supports Lamu port but wants the two projects to run concurrently. Sang said constructing the Lamu facility and forgetting the Dongo Kundu project will shift the free port status to Lamu thereby ‘finishing’ the Mombasa port.
“Once the Lamu port becomes the only free port facility in the country, then it will change economic prospects of Mombasa,” said Sang. “Right now we are seeing the government has started taking all resources to Lamu port. However, KPA Managing Director, Gichiri Ndua has moved to assure that plans to develop the Free Port through public private partnership arrangement on the piece of land reserved at Dongo Kundu area is on.
“Development of Free Port facilities on 3,000 acres of land at Dongo Kundu area through public privatepartnership is still on course,” he told an international Conference in Durban, South Africa last week.
Ndua was delivering a paper, Enhancing Transport Connectivity by Investing in Port Infrastructure, Case Study on the Port of Mombasa, during the 10th Intermodal Africa Conference and exhibition in the port city. The meeting is the biggest annual Ports, shipping logistics exhibition and conference on the African continent.
He said the design of a Road Bypass to link the project area and Mombasa – Lunga Lunga – Nairobi Highway is ready and construction is set to start next year.
The Government has received a Sh29 billion loan from the Japan through, Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to construct a 26km bypass that will link the island of Mombasa to South Coast.
The road also referred to as Dongo Kundu Bypass linked to the New Container Terminal – is aimed at easing movement of cargo from the port and is the second largest project after the LAPSSET Corridor.
It will serve as an alternative link from the hinterland to the South Coast and to the planned Dongo Kundu Port. The goal of the Freeport, a Vision 2030 flagship project, is to bring a mini ‘Dubai’ to Kenya and open up the development of the region.