Kenya in emergency road works for early oil exports

Deputy President William Ruto flags off machinery during the launch of construction works for Eldoret-Kitale-Lokichar-Amosing roads at kainuk, Turkana County.PHOTO: COURTESY

The Government is moving to upgrade infrastructure as it readies to start moving crude oil from Turkana to Mombasa.

Deputy President William Ruto yesterday commissioned the construction of roads between Lesseru in Eldoret and Amosing in Lokichar that will be used by trucks moving the crude oil from the oil fields of Turkana to Mombasa for export.

The Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) has awarded contracts to seven contractors, who will build separate lots of the 297 kilometres of Lesseru- Kitale- Lokichar-Amosing road. Tullow has made major oil finds in Lokichar that it estimates could be upwards of a billion barrels.

The roads will ease transportation for the crude oil between Turkana and Mombasa as the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum prepares for the implementation of the Early Oil Pilot Scheme, under which it plans to export small quantities with a view to testing the market.

The crude will be stored at the Kenya Petroleum Refinery (KPRL), which has also embarked on an upgrade of its storage facilities to be able to handle the oil.

The Deputy President, who represented President Uhuru Kenyatta, said the road project in Turkana will improve the transport system and trade in the region. “It’s high time the people of Turkana enjoyed Government services and good roads like other Kenyans. The first phase of the road will cost Sh3.2 billion and will stretch from Lesseru in Uasin Gishu to Amosing in Turkana South,” said Ruto.

KeNHA said construction started in June this year and expects certain segments to be complete by June 2017, while the entire Lesseru-Amosing project would be complete by June 2018. “KeNHA has embarked on emergency works on the Eldoret-Kitale-Lokochar-Amosing section of the South Sudan link Roads for Early Oil Pilot Scheme,” said the roads agency in a statement yesterday.

Ugandan route

“Oil exploration in Lokichar has sparked development projects in the region and the Government aims to ease transportation and accessibility by providing efficient transportation of the crude oil to our export terminals at the port of Mombasa by road.”

In March this year, KeNHA invited bids from contractors for the emergency repair of the road. In addition, KeNHA said it would undertake major repair works that would also extend to Nadapal, the Kenya South Sudan border post.

The road between Kitale and Nadapal through Lodwar has been in a deplorable state for years. It has been a key non-tariff barrier for Kenyan and South Sudanese businesses that have ventured in cross-border trade, many of which have been forced to either opt for air travel or use the longer but better Ugandan route.

The Eldoret-Nadapal road has been projected to cost Sh75.3 billion. Ruto said the Government is still in talks with lenders to finance the remaining part of the road, noting the Government has already secured Sh40 billion for the project.

“Apart from the emergency works being undertaken, the Government intends to do major rehabilitation of the roads from Lesseru-Kitale-Marich Pass-Lokichar and Nadapal, totalling 600 kilometres,” said the KeNHA statement.

“This is a transnational project that will promote and facilitate regional and economic integration between Kenya and South Sudan.”

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