Land commission to start acquisition half a million acres for lapsset projects

Lapsset Corridor Development Authority Director General Silvester Kasuku (left) and NLC Chairman Muhammad Swazuri when they signed an MoU that allows the commission to acquire land for Lapsset projects. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The Government is next week set to start acquisition of close to half a million acres of land for the construction of different infrastructure projects for the Lamu Port South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) Corridor.

The land will cut across six counties in the north and north eastern regions. The National Land Commission (NLC) Friday said it would embark on the process of acquiring 197,200 hectares (487,000 acres) of land for the different projects along the corridor.

These will include transport infrastructure such as roads, railways and a crude oil pipeline, which will be built on a 500 metre wide corridor across the different counties. Other projects will include special economic zones, resort cities and airports.

The Lapsset corridor, which is estimated to cost Sh2.5 trillion when complete, starts in Lamu and runs through Garissa, Isiolo, Laikipia, Marsabit, Moyale and Turkana.

It aims at opening up the northern Kenya while connecting the country to its northern neighbours of South Sudan and Ethiopia.

“We will start the process of acquisition of land for all Lapsset projects next week by publishing a notice of intention to acquire,” said NLC Chairman Muhammad Swazuri.

He added that the acquisition process for the Lapsset land, which is expected to take six months, could be easier compared to other projects as most of the land is unoccupied.

Land is also owned by communities living along the corridor as opposed to other projects where land has been highly subdivided and owned by numerous individuals. Some of these are factors that have led to lengthy land acquisition process and in many instances delayed projects.

“Almost all of the land, 97 per cent, is unoccupied, which will make the process of resettling project affected persons easier,” said Swazuri, who spoke Friday when NLC signed a memorandum of understanding that provides a framework for the acquisition of land for Lapsset projects.

The land to be acquired by NLC is in addition to some 28,500 hectares (70,000 acres) that the Lapsset Corridor Development Authority (LCDA) had bought for the construction of the Lamu Port and ancillary facilities such as buildings used for administrative work.

Lamu Road

Among the projects that are expected to commence immediately when NLC hands over land to the Lapsset include the Lamu-Garissa-Isiolo Road.

“Construction works on the road will start in February,” said LCDA Director General Silvester Kasuku.

The 530km road will be put up by the Lamu Road Consortium, which is led by South Africa’s Group Five Proprietary Ltd and the Development Bank of Southern Afrca (DBSA) at a cost of Sh62 billion ($620 million).

It is scheduled for completion in four years and the consortium will operate the road for 25 years.

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