The government has allocated an additional Sh10 billion for works under the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor project in Kililana.
Transport Principal Secretary Irungu Nyakera said a similar figure had been set aside in the previous financial year but due to delays only Sh7 billion was utilised.
Mr Nyakera said building of the first three berths at the port site in Kililana, Lamu, is ongoing.
The PS said the first berth is expected to be complete by June 2018 and the other two by 2020.
With regards to impediments, he mentioned land acquisition – especially compensation of owners in Kililana and Mashunduani – and inadequate water supply as major challenges.
Nonetheless, he said they will be sorted out.
He added that youth are being trained through the project’s scholarship programme to work in various capacities, which is one way of dealing with the unemployment issue.
“The reason why we are having many Chinese contractors at the port is because we don’t have people in this country to handle such activities.
“That’s why we are making efforts to train and have more Kenyans employed at the Lapsset corridor projects.
“We have done the same at the Port of Mombasa and we also have over 60 people who have been trained to provide labour at the Standard Gauge Railway,” he said.
Mr Nyakera said the progress so far is commendable but more Kenyans need skills.
“We are happy with the progress here. We should however think of local skills transfer so that by the time we start building the other 20 berths, the work would be fully designed and done by Kenyans.”
Lapsset Development Authority chairman Francis Muthaura lauded all stakeholders for facilitating the project’s success.
Lapsset CEO Sylvester Kasuku termed the project a global game changer.
“Through Lapsset, people will have access to other parts of the country and at the end of the day reduce conflicts brought about by economic and development imbalance,” he said.
It is expected to have an impact in all spheres of life of citizens in Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan and other East African countries.
Mr Kasuku added that the discovery of oil deposits in Turkana will aid its success.
“It’s now easy to see the significance of the oil industry development to the Lapsset, hence this is the main driving point of the project. The advent of such a multibillion project in the region will open up Lamu to bigger industrial prospects,” he said.
The Sh2.5 trillion Lapsset project plan includes a 32-berth port; transportation hubs for rail, highway; international airports in Lamu, Isiolo and Lodwar; an oil pipeline from South Sudan connecting Uganda and Ethiopia to Lamu Port; an oil refinery and three resort cities in Isiolo, Lamu and Turkana.