President Kibaki has said the expansion of Mombasa Port will position the country as a regional maritime hub.
The President said the port was a a strategic gateway to East and Central Africa and noted that an efficient port will not only facilitate trade within the country but also for neighbouring countries.
Speaking during the ground breaking ceremony to begin construction of the second Container Terminal at Kilindini Harbour in Mombasa County, President Kibaki said the government has put a Master Plan in place clearly outlining capacity expansion programmes for the next 25 years.
The new terminal is a joint venture between the Kenyan and Japan.
President Kibaki said expansion and modernisation of the port of Mombasa among other development projects being undertaken by the government will go a long way in addressing the many constraints facing Kenyans in the region and the country.
He noted that the new terminal which is to be constructed at an estimated cost of Sh28 billion will double the port’s cargo handling capacity apart from enhancing its operations.
"The proposed development of a Free Trade Zone in this region, for example, will attract industrial and business activities thereby generating employment opportunities.," he said.
President Kibaki emphasised that the unprecedented growth in cargo volumes over the last 10 years had outstripped the port’s capacity.
"As you are all aware, the Port of Mombasa has experienced unprecedented growth in cargo volumes over the last ten years. This growth has outstripped the capacity of the current container terminal which was designed to cater for 250,000 Twenty Equivalent Units,” said the President.
With an additional space for 1.2 million containers, the Head of State said the second Container Terminal will accommodate the current container volumes, which is in excess of 770,000 Units and be well positioned to cater for the projected container increase in excess of 960,000 Units by 2015.
The President said the government is undertaking major investments in road and rail infrastructure to provide linkages necessary for the Port of Mombasa to successfully play its role in the transport logistic chain.
"In order for the Port of Mombasa to successfully play its role in the transport logistic chain, the road and rail transport systems must also be efficient. In this regard, we are undertaking major investments in road and rail infrastructure development,” he said.
As part of infrastructural investments, President Kibaki said the government has finalised plans for the construction of Dongo Kundu bypass to connect Mombasa-Nairobi road with Mombasa-LungaLunga road.
The President urged the coastal residents to actively be involved in all civic processes that will enable them take charge of their affairs in county governments.
He said devolved governments will trigger economic development and enable the government to effectively address the challenges facing the people at the grassroots level in all parts of the country.
"Let me take this opportunity to urge the people of this region and the whole country to participate in all civic processes that will enable us put County governments in place,” the President said.
Cabinet ministers Chirau Mwakwere (Environment), Amos Kimunya (Transport) and Franklin Bett (Roads) were among leaders who spoke.
Others were assistant ministers Ramadhan Kajembe and Hassan Joho, MP Gonzi Rai, Japan ambassador to Kenya Toshihisa Takata, Transport PS Cyrus Njiru, Kenya Ports Authority chairman Shukri Baramadi, Managing Director Gichiri Ndua and Coast PC Samuel Kilele.
Present were MP Kiema Kilonzo, acting Head of Public Service Francis Kimemia, acting Permanent Secretary Mutea Iringo, representatives of Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda governments and members of KPA Board of Directors among other senior government officials.