By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
April 2, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) – The Kenyan government has setup an independent body to monitor the implementation of a massive regional infrastructure development project known as the Lamu Port – Southern Sudan – Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET).
The 11-member body which comprises five high ranking government officials and other private sector representatives was established by outgoing Kenyan president, Mwai Kibaki
The monitoring body will be tasked to control and follow developments of constructions to the different components of the $24bn three-nation-run project on behalf of the Kenyan government.
“The headquarters of the authority shall be in Nairobi with field offices in Lamu, Isiolo, Lokichoggio, Marsabit and Moyale,” Kibaki told Kenyan media outlets.
Construction of the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor will eventually link Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia by an advanced transport network, which it is hoped will boost cross-border trade.
It will also create multiple business opportunities in the sectors of tourism and agriculture. It will further enhance social ties and friendship between peoples of the three East African neighbors.
The Lamu project will further enable to connect the three countries to other central and western costs of Africa providing services to an estimated population of 160 million.
Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan will share the cost of Africa’s biggest infrastructure project which is expected to be accomplished in 2016.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) will finance part of the project, particularly road section of the Lamu port project.
The bank has already funded $12mn for the design work of the road component.
Although the project will bring socio-economic benefits, some rights groups and environmentalist however argue that the project has potential negative impacts particularly against tens of thousands of Indigenous communities living along the LAPSSET transport corridor.
Gezai Zeru, a Geologist and environmentalist told Sudan Tribune that the massive project will primarily force the indigenous peoples to lose their ancestral land and territories.
“They will also lose resources and the lacks of natural resources will eventually lead to tribal conflicts which could have a potential of spilling cross borders” he said.
The indigenous peoples of Awer, Sanye, Wardei, Orma, Samburi, Borana and Turkana pastoralists could in the long term be forced to change their traditional livelihood practices.
“As a result of forced eviction their cultures and traditions could also fade” Gezai added.