Lapsset Commitment to Preserve the Environment
The Lapsset board set out to define the risk to the environment and mitigation as an inalienable component of overall project design and implementation.
The Lamu Port South-Sudan, Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) Corridor project has always given the requisite accent to environmental issues. This is according to the Director General/CEO & Secretary to the Lapsset Board, Silvester Kasuku.
In an article published in the Standard, Kasuku stated that their approach was borne out of the fact that a project of such a magnitude was going to have an effect on the environment: Physical and social. The board therefore set out to define the risk and mitigation as an inalienable component of overall project design and implementation.
By scope, Lapsset is gargantuan. A regional multi-modal infrastructure programme, it integrates seven projects that include roads, railway and pipeline components in Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia. It is easily the single largest project of its nature in Eastern Africa aimed at providing seamless connectivity, while enhancing trade and logistics. A key component of Lapsset is the construction of the first three of the 32 Berths in Lamu Port. This project, which is being undertaken by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), is currently underway. Like all other Lapsset projects, the first terminal at the Lamu Port, which is 40 per cent complete and is expected to be ready for commissioning in mid next year, has had environmental sensitivity at the very core of its implementation.
The Lapsset Corridor Development Authority (LCDA) received Approval and Environmental Impact Assessment Licenses from the requisite regulatory bodies in 2014 before any works could start. Most importantly, this high level of environmental sensitivity has been embedded into actual project implementation. In conformance with the Land Acquisition Act, compulsory acquisition and compensation of landowners within the affected area was done in 2015, paving way for the contractor CRBC to start actual works on the project. The construction includes dredging and land reclamation works in the sea, inevitably affecting fishing activities in the area, and by extension fisherfolk. A number of mitigation measures have been put in place. These include oceanographic assessment whose aim is to commit heavy construction works to only those times when the sea is calm to reduce sedimentation.
Lapsset management and contractors have also set up "silk curtains" around the construction site to prevent massive spread of sediments during construction, which has potential to affect coral life and fishing. The formation of a detailed Resettlement Action Plan has been central to our pursuit of adequate compensation for landowners.
A joint meeting between the boards of Kenya Ports Authority and LCDA on February 28, called for a Task Force on fishermen compensation to work out the finer details. Further, a taskforce comprising Lamu County Officials, LCDA and KPA Officials was formed. It held a meeting with Beach Management Units on July 14, where compensation methods were outlined. Also planned is a fish factory in the proposed Special Economic Zone.
According to Kasuku, the transformative economic power of Lapsset, a Vision 2030 project, cannot be gainsaid. It will open up over 70 per cent of our country for vibrant economic activity. The board is determined to achieve all these in a manner that preserves the environment and livelihoods of the Kenyan people.
Source: The Standard