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Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) on Wednesday signed a KSh62 billion (US$590 million) deal with a consortium including South African construction firm Group Five and the Development Bank of Southern Africa, to construct the Lamu-Garissa-Isiolo road. The 530km road will head north-west from the port city of Lamu to Isiolo, a city north of Nairobi, via Garissa.
The consortium, named the Lamu Road Consortium, will design, build, finance, maintain, operate and transfer the highway. Work is due to start in June 2018 and be completed within four years. The operations and maintenance phase will run for a period of 25 years. The project is being funded by the Development Bank of South Africa and the repayment period is 13 years.
Cabinet Secretary James Macharia stated,
“We are achieving a very key milestone to basically kick off the process of construction of the Lamu -Garissa- Isiolo Road and that it is no longer a pipe dream. Indeed now we are starting the implementation of the development of that corridor, we are opening that corridor of northern Kenya completely that means the growth of this country would be massively enhanced."
The project is a component of the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor project. This is an ambitious transnational infrastructure mega-project consisting of a new port at Lamu (Kenya); interregional highways within Kenya, and from Kenya to South Sudan and Ethiopia; crude oil pipelines; product oil pipelines; railway lines; three international airports, three resort cities and a multipurpose dam along the Tana River. It was commissioned by former President of Kenya Mwai Kibaki in 2012 and is hoped in its entirety to add three per cent to the country’s annual GDP growth.
As the pioneering part of LAPSETT, the Lamu-Garissa-Isiolo road will ease transport of cargo from Lamu Port, reduce the dependence on the port of Mombasa, and decongest the Northern corridor, open up Kenya’s northern frontier for more trade and investment. Furthermore, ten towns along the route of the road will benefit directly from its development.