The much anticipated construction of the Lamu Port will begin nextmonth.
This follows the completion of compensation of people affected by the project.
President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday announced the ambitious project seeking to link five countries in the region will finally kick off.
Ground breaking for the first 3 berths of Lamu Port is scheduled to be undertaken immediately compensation is completed by the National Land Commission (NLC) and the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.
He said the new port, which is part of the Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor project, will provide an opportunity for the exploitation of the country’s maritime resources.
The President said Kenya has begun to realise the vision of the African Union with its huge investments in port, road and rail infrastructure development whose aim is the seamless flow of cargo.
“Given that the maritime industry is the carrier of 92 per cent of our international trade by volume, and given the importance of international trade to our prosperity, the choice of investment was prudent too,” he said.
The state is currently finalizing construction of intermediate airport facilities in Lamu Manda Airport and Isiolo Airport.
The LAPSSET Corridor Program is envisaged to transform the Kenyan economy into a stable double digit growth rate and stronger middle income economy by the year 2030.
The LAPSSET Corridor Program is therefore described as “Building Africa’s Transformative and game change infrastructure to create a new economic dispensation in the continent”
President Kenyatta spoke yesterday at Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) when he opened Kenya’s first National Maritime Conference that was convened to discuss and develop a national action plan on how Kenyans can benefit from the country’s maritime resources.
Special focus, according to President Kenyatta, must be put on training so that the country’s maritime skills match the infrastructure being developed to exploit maritime resources.
He directed the Cabinet Secretaries responsible for Transport, Labour, Education and the National Treasury to put in place the necessary measures to establish a centre of excellence at one of the public universities that will provide specialized training for the maritime industry.
President Kenyatta however disclosed that a public university will soon start to offer training in maritime studies; “The Vice-Chancellor of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology is here and this is an indication of where we are headed.”
Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau regretted that Kenyans have not been fully exploiting maritime resources.
“This fear has locked Kenyans out of many opportunities. The time has come for us to remove the sunglasses and face the water,” the Cabinet Secretary said.
International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary General Koji Semizu described maritime resources as the ‘blue economy’, saying a lot needs to be done to fully develop the sector.
He said Africa has huge potential in maritime development and IMO is ready to help African countries’ action plans.
Mr Semizu added that IMO will work with the UNDP and other UN organizations to ensure support for African countries. He asked Kenya to draft a maritime policy in order to exploit the benefits of the ‘blue economy.’
Other speakers included Transport Principal Secretary Nduva Muli and Kenya Maritime Authority Director-General Nancy Karigithu.
Mr Semizu is at the tail-end of his term in office. Kenya’s Juvenal Shiundu, a senior IMO official, is a candidate to replace him.
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