reparations are in top gear for June 15th commissioning of Lamu port as experts offer views on what should be done for quick gains as terrains has changed significantly compared to 2012 when the construction of the project was conceived.
The first set of equipment including low load trailers, extension cargo handlers and trailers to be used at the multibillion-shilling facility arrived in the country last week.
With the construction of the road infrastructure to evacuate cargo from Lamu port to South Sudan and Ethiopia, which were the initial transit market still not complete, experts say that the country must be innovative to maximise the use of the first three berths.
In an opinion piece in Business Daily today, George Wachira, an expert on oil related issues said that it is important for Lamu port growth that the proposed highway between Lamu-Garissa highway is further extended to Isiolo and subsequently to Lokichar town to link with Eldoret/Juba highway which was the original Lapsset highway plan.
Wachira summarises key success drivers for the new Lamu port as livestock export project, which can be a clear ealry winner that should be coordinated jointly with the pastoralist counties of Lamu, Tana River and Garissa.
The former LAPPSET Authority LAPPSET authority Chief Mr Sylvester Kasuku, in a TV interview last year acknowledged that there is a need for a significant change on rolling out the LAPPSET project partly due to delay in developing on shore infrastructure to connect the corridor.
Djibouti, which handles over almost the entire Ethiopian cargo, moved ahead of us by constructing four new ports in the last few years, the most popular one being Dolareh container terminal. It has also constructed one of the biggest free trade zones in Africa.
Ethiopia has also found other sea routes. Dubai World is constructing Port Berbera in Somaliland- in a new corridor- that will be linked by a road and perhaps a rail. Once ready, this will be the shortest sea route for Ethiopia, an 11 hours’ journey. Ethiopia has also gained a stake in the privately managed Berbera port.
Following Ethiopian peace deal with Eritrea, the country now has access to two other ports it used before the Eritrea broke up from Ethiopia- port Assab and Massawa. Since Eretria gained independence in the early 90s, Ethiopia became a landlocked country, a move that had hampered its ambition to emerge as an economic and political powerhouse.
The government must also fast track the proposed growth areas. LAPPSET Corridor Development Plan has divided the Northern Eastern region into nine (9) growth areas; Lamu Growth area, Garissa-Bura growth area, Wajir growth area, Moyale growth area, Lokichogio growth area, Turkana growth area, Isiolo-Meru Archers Post growth area and the Mwingi growth area.
Each of the growth areas has an identified set of economic activities and investment opportunities that will spur economic growth of the area and the Northern Eastern region. This includes Isiolo-Meru area being a logistics centre along the corridor and a resort city; Moyale, Wajir and Garissa-Bura growth areas mainly for the setup of Export Processing zones for livestock and animal by-products. Directly related to the Port is the potential of Isiolo, Lokichogio and Moyale for the setup of Inland Container Depots, which may increase the transport efficiency, and facilitate cross-border trade with neighboring countries that will be linked firmly by the LAPSSET Corridor namely Southern Sudan and Ethiopia.
The LAPSSET corridor therefore can be visualized as a development corridor concept that can elevate a region to a certain level of development. This concept maximizes on a strategy that identifies areas with inherent growth potential for concentrating investment to stimulate growth. It is expected that public sector resources will be sourced to develop physical and social infrastructure to facilitate investment. To achieve such accelerated integrated development, the government should ensure that enabling business environment that foster investment is provided for.