By KBC Correspondent
The Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) is investing Sh. 1.8 billion to put up a new headquarter building in Mombasa island.
Construction work for the KMA building is scheduled to start in earnest this week following the groundbreaking ceremony witnessed by Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary (CS) James Macharia.
The 15 storey headquarter building will take the next 18 months and is billed to be tallest building in the coastal city.
‘‘This new ultra modern building will host KMA staff, foreign consulates, some government ministries and departments as well as preeminent maritime professionals’’ said Dr. Macharia flanked by his Principal Secretary Irungu Nyakera and KMA Director General Cosmas Cherop.
Dr. Macharia says the maritime industry is critical to the overall growth of the country’s economy and GDP and urged the KMA and other stakeholders to champion maritime services, training and businesses.
The minister underscored the linkages between KMA, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and the roads and rail infrastructure.
He said developing the maritime sector has the potential to support the rail and road infrastructure across the country.
‘‘So KMA should ensure robust transportation in our waterways that find linkages to the port of Mombasa and connect the hinterland through roads and rail’’ he said.
‘‘We have the Standard Gauge Railway line which will start commercial services in June this year so if we don’t have robust water transportation where will the new line get the cargo to transport to the hinterland’’ he quipped.
The CS says the volume of containers handled at the port of Mombasa is growing climbing to 1.6 million Twenty Foot Equivalent container units (TEUs) from 800,000 TEUs in two years.
Dr. Macharia says his ministry has launched Sh.100 billion road projects aimed at facilitating transportation of goods and passengers in the coast region.
He said the construction of the Sh. 22 billion superhighway between Mombasa and Mariakani weighbridge along the northern transport corridor and the Dongo-Kundu bypass highway that are part of plans to decongest the coastal city are progressing well.
‘‘All this development projects will ensure that transporters ferrying cargo between Kenya and the East African region will experience efficient service delivery’’ he said.
He also pointed out that the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia –Transport (LAPSSET) infrastructure corridor project is well on course and that the government has identified Development Bank of South Africa to be the anchor investor for a consortium of international investors.
Mr. Cherop explained that the construction of the Authority’s headquarters conveys the authority’s recognition of great maritime potential of the Coastal region and its prospective to progress further for the overall economic benefit of the country in general.
‘‘It also signifies KMA’s commitment to progress Kenya’s maritime industry by optimizing the country’s maritime resources and potential for the socio-economic benefits of all Kenyans,’’ Cherop said.