LAMU COUNTY INCHES CLOSER TO BECOMING A FUTURE PORT CITY AND TRANSPORTATION HUB

The once humble town of Lamu renowned for the traditional, transportation means, chief among them donkey transport, handcarts is gearing up to becoming East Africa’s Largest port city and transportation hub. This is as a result of the growth and development envisaged through the implementation of LAPSSET Corridor Program infrastructural components in the County of Lamu.

Deep-sea port

The development of a 32 berth deep-sea port in Lamu by the Government of Kenya has thrust the County into the infrastructural development limelight and is now perceived as a development hub with both local and international investors considering the opportunities presented by the LAPSSET developments in Lamu County. Other infrastructures within the LAPSSET Program that will be developed in Lamu County are Resort City, Interregional railway, interregional highway, crude and product oil pipelines, and an International Airport. LCDA has also set aside land meant for the establishment of a Special Economic Zone.

Owing to the developmental benefits envisaged as a result of the LAPSSET Projects, Lamu has seen an increase in population especially due to migration into the county by the people from other parts of Kenya, in quest for a share of the numerous trade, employment and business opportunities presented by the infrastructural developments in the County.

Government plans Integrated Transport Infrastructure Master Plan for Lamu port city

Considering the huge development in Lamu, the government has embarked on activities to plan the Lamu port city into one of the most efficient ports cities in the world. This will provide the port with the strong structural support to enhance efficient functioning and growth in order to compete with other ports in the global front.

Following the successful development and launch of the Preliminary Integrated Investment Framework for the Lamu Port City, the LAPSSET Corridor Development Authority (LCDA) is currently in the process of developing an Integrated Transport Infrastructure Master Plan for Lamu Port City. This Master Plan is being funded by the European Union Delegation in Kenya, through the ‘Support to Kenya Energy and Transport Sector (SKETS) Component 3 – Investment Project Preparation Facility’, for projects that are geared towards developing national and regional infrastructure projects that are ready for financing.

The objective of the Master Plan is to interlink various LAPSSET Corridor project components in Lamu County, leading to sustainable implementation of the projects. Lamu port is expected to join the list of the fastest growing ports in the East Coast of Africa thus cause an increase in demand of other services within the port city. This calls for a well-planned transport system that will enhance the growth of all vital activities of the port by linking all the growth aspects within the city. This will not only improve the quality of life within the city but also create a seamless transport system that will heighten the local and regional integration thus increased economic growth in the region.

The Master Plan will be guided by the preliminary transport demand projections developed from existing and foreseen population allocation, land use, traffic volume, and infrastructure and social services offer.

The scope of the transport Masterplan will augment various aspects of the Lamu Port city that include, integrated road and rail networks interlinking the LAPSSET Corridor project components such as: Lamu Port, Resort City, Lamu International Airport, Special Economic zone areas/Industrial areas, Terminal facilities among others; priority road projects and preliminary recommendation on traffic flow management, including traffic signaling; other public transport networks interlinking the project components; non-motorized transport facilities (cycling and walking) and public spaces and any other related transport facilities deemed to be necessary, such as multimodal platforms.

Preserving the world heritage site

Scenic beauty of Lamu

In December 2001, Lamu Old Town was inscribed as UNESCO’s World Heritage Center considering it as the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in east Africa, retaining its traditional functions. Built in coral stone and mangrove timber, the town is characterized by the simplicity of structural forms enriched by such features as inner courtyard, verandas, and elaborated carved wooden doors’.

The LAPSSET Corridor Development Authority is observing all statutory requirements that govern the preservation of the World Heritage Site by ensuring that the developments within the envisaged Lamu Port City abide by such obligations.

Public participation the transport Master-plan

On 9th October 2017, LCDA together with the European Union delegation to Kenya and ALANeT Global undertook a stakeholder engagement forum, which is part of the statutory obligation, with the intention of informing the public on the ongoing Transport Masterplan development and bring them up to speed with the progress so far.

In the workshop the existing transport situation was revisited and the public envisioned the planned transport network that would further open the County to development, provide access to new markets, further integrate the County with the rest of the East African region and the world thus tremendous growth and a thriving economy in the once  economically humble city. Lamu stakeholders lauded the value of the gains as a result of the LAPSSET Program and the plans to make Lamu city a model port city for the African continent and the rest of the world.