Juba, National, News

LAPSSET meeting starts with eyes fixed on S. Sudan

By William Madouk

A third ministerial meeting of the Council of Ministers of Lamu Port, South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) project has on Wednesday, kicked off in Juba.

With starting of the three-day long ministerial conference, eyes now turn on South Sudan that is still lagging behind among its peer member states in the ambitious mega project – LAPSSET Corridor.

Aimed at fast-tracking implementation of the project, the meeting opened by Vice President for Infrastructure cluster, Taban Deng Gai is attended by delegations from member states and government officials.

South Sudan minister of Transport, Madut Biar showed his pleasure in hosting the third meeting, adding that Kenya and Ethiopia have done their best in establishing needed infrastructure with remaining task on South Sudan.

“Now, the ball is in the court of the Republic of South Sudan. Kenya has already connected from Lamu Port up to Nadapal,” Biar said.

“It is now up to people and government of South Sudan to connect or build asphalt road from Nadapal to Juba then from Juba to other parts,” he added.

He however reiterated government’s commitment to meet all the LAPSSET requirements and start implementing their task.

“South Sudan is going to be a hub connecting Kenya via Nadapal and connect Ethiopia from Rihad to Boma and through Fangak to Malakal,” he stressed.

State minister of Finance of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, Dr. Eyob Tekalign said Ethiopian government has invested in vital structures but still gaps from LAPSSET members’ countries cannot lead to full realization of the project.

He added that ‘an investment half completed is an incomplete project’ that would not lead to full potential, because that missing gap will significantly ‘hamper the potential of the greater connectivity for trade, investment, growth and prosperity’.

“So, under LAPSSET umbrella, what we are trying to do collectively is to identify those gaps and work together,” he noted.

Kenyan minister of Transport, Kichumba Murkomen stated that his government is now doing ‘market sounding’ to allure the international investors to unlock potentials of Lamu Port.

He also echoed Kenyan government’s commitment, adding that they are also constructing roads to connect South Sudan.

“We believe that by doing so, we will unlock a huge potential in our three countries, and we will not also build on infrastructure but provide avenues for development all those roads,” Murkomen said.

He also cited that the last ministerial meeting endorses ‘a joint coordinating committee’ for the three LAPSSET countries, asserting that the current deliberations will conceptualize the proposal.

“In term of the road from Lohichar to Nakadok we have done 95 percent, we are working with the republic of South Sudan to make sure that the remain bit of the contract of 11 kilometer is resolved and completed,” he noted.

“But it’s our hope that we work as a region not as an individual country to make sure also we support South Sudan in moving the road from the border to Juba and beyond,” he continued.

South Sudan transport minister said they lack sufficient documents to implement the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia transport project, but minister Biar said he would ask ministers concern to fast-truck on legislation documents.

LAPSSET is an ambitious infrastructure project in Eastern Africa, connecting Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Sudan.

It consists of seven key infrastructure projects, including a new 32-berth port at Lamu, interregional highways, crude oil pipelines, standard gauge railway lines, international airports, three resort cities, and a multipurpose high Grand falls dam.

The LAPSSET Corridor is designed to function as an economic corridor, giving numerous Eastern African countries access to a large-scale economic trading system and supporting regional socio-economic growth.

The project connects 160 million people in the three countries. The corridor is also part of a wider land bridge that would connect Lamu Port on the East African coast to Douala Port on the West African coast through South Sudan.

The third LAPSSET transport corridor meeting was hosted by government of South Sudan through ministry of Transport and funded by United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).


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