Kenyans will have to wait for a little longer for the completion of the first berth at the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor project.
This is according to Lapsset chief executive Silvester Kasuku who revealed that the first berth will be ready by June 2019.
Earlier, the Lapsset Corridor Development Authority had announced that the first berth out of the three was to be ready by December this year.
Mr Kasuku said he was confident that the first berth will be operational by June, next year.
The Sh2.5 trillion project is being set up at Kililana, in Lamu West.
He said so far the construction of the first three deep sea berths which is fully financed by the national government is 55 per cent complete with all the three berths set to be ready by 2020.
The three berths cost the government Sh 48 billion.
The cost includes the physical construction of the three Lapsset terminals plus other activities such as preparation of the turning bay, dredging and reclamation works as well as navigation of sea waves.
“The Lamu port construction is very much on course. I can confirm that all the three berths completion rate is at about 55 per cent. The first berth is at 72 percent complete and it will be ready by June, 2019,” said Mr Kasuku.
In February this year, the national government had announced that the first berth at the site would be done by June this year but later changed the completion date to December, 2018 and now to June, 2019.
Mr Kasuku however dismissed claims that there is possibility that the first berth completion will be delayed further.
“There is no delay. The first berth will be operational by June, 2019. There is no change in date so far because December, 2018 is still in sight but operationability is at June, 2019. Dredging and reclamation works will however continue for the other two berths which we expect to be ready by 2020,” said Mr Kasuku.
To facilitate this, several preliminary and support infrastructure such as the Sh 866 million Port Headquarters, the Port Police Station, Electric Power Connection to the National Grid and Water Reticulation Network were already undertaken and are complete.
Mr Kasuku said the construction of the Port Management Housing Scheme is also ongoing.
He said the government was committed to pursuing the development of the appropriate road infrastructure connections that will connect the port to the rest of the Lapsset corridor as well as other parts of the country and outside.
In July this year, the Lapsset project received a much needed boost after the national government injected an additional Sh8.9 billion into the project to speed up its completion.
On August 1, this year, President Uhuru Kenyatta made an impromptu tour to the Lapsset site in Kililana where he directed contractors of the project to speed up its construction.
In September this year, the National Assembly Committee on Transport and Infrastructure led by the chairperson David Pkosing (Pokot South MP), toured the project site in Kililana and pledged to push the national government to increase its budgetary allocation for the ongoing construction of the Lamu Port.
Mr Pkosing cited an urgent need for the government to increase the Lapsset funding so as to ensure the 2020 three berth completion deadline is met.
The project plan include a 32-berth port, transportation hubs for rail, highway and international airports in Lamu, Isiolo and Lodwar, an oil pipeline from South Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia to Lamu Port, an oil refinery and three resort cities in Isiolo, Lamu and Turkana counties.