The County government of Kwale has transferred the title deed for 3.8 hectares of land for the construction of the much-anticipated multibillion Shimoni fishing port.
The construction works of the Sh 2.6 billion port project will be spearheaded by the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).
The proposed industrial fishing port infrastructure will include a multipurpose berth that will incorporate fish and conventional cargo handling and cold storage facilities besides a fish processing plant.
Initially, the government had reserved the donated land for fishing and marine research by Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMRI).
Addressing the press during the signing of the land transfer agreement at the County Headquarters in Kwale town, Governor Salim Mvurya said his administration is committed to ensure the construction works commence as scheduled.
Governor Mvurya highlighted that the project is a major boost to the fishing industry which has been underperforming because of over-relying on traditional fishing methods.
“The county government has transferred the land for the project and we hope the other processes will be finalized as soon as possible to pave the way for the construction of the project,” Mvurya said, adding, “we are very proud of this project and we shall throw our full support behind it.”
The county boss said the project will boost the economy of the county by creating many employment opportunities.
“This occasion is a major breakthrough. The port will change the local economic fortunes of Shimoni and Kwale at large. We want our people to get first priority in jobs because we have educated them through bursary. We have many local engineers and other experts and so, do not expect people to be brought from elsewhere,” Mvurya said.
He urged KPA to fully engage and involve the local community and county government in the project implementation.
“This project will change the lives of many people and KPA has assured us that the construction work will hire locals and, in that way, people will be able to support their families and businesses,”Mvurya said.
Governor Mvurya reiterated his administration’s commitment to supporting and ensuring successful implementation of the project which he said upon completion would be a game-changer to the economies of the entire coastal region.
“As a devolved unit we are in full support of the Shimoni Port project which we had recognized in our County Integrated Plan in 2013,” he said.
Last week, KPA presented the project design to the county government for deliberation and approval.
The project once completed will offer a breakthrough in the exploitation of the blue economy sector.
KPAs Acting Managing Director (MD) Amb. John Mwangemi said the construction works of the port are expected to finally kick off in April this year.
Amb. Mwangemi disclosed that KPA has set aside Sh 2.6 billion for the fishing port project which is expected to be completed within a period of 24 months.
The KPA MD who was accompanied by KPA’s General Manager Infrastructure Development Eng. Vincent Sidai said at least 16 firms have expressed interest in the construction of the project.
Construction of Phase One will start next month and will take 24 months. It will cost Sh2.6 billion and will include a 100 meter jetty, a cold storage facility and many other landmark premises.
He said the tendering committee is finalizing the tender evaluation process and successful applicants shall be notified by March.
The key components of the project according to the KPA boss include construction of a jetty parallel to the existing one, refurbishment of current offices, construction of the yard, cold storage facilities and construction of a fish market.
“In undertaking the new project, the current fish landing jetty was spared to avoid economic and social disruptions of livelihoods of the locals,” he said.
He went on “we are doing well and we hope that by early March, the contractor shall be awarded a commencement letter.”
Amb. Mwangemi said all mandatory requirements including but not limited to feasibility studies and environmental impact assessment have been met in readiness for the project which is estimated to be completed in two years.
At the same time, Amb. Mwangemi disclosed that KPA has plans to construct a modern fish market to serve the needs of local fishermen.
He said the existing Shimoni jetty would be rehabilitated by KPA to continue serving the local community and support tourism activities.
The Shimoni Fishing Port will enable large-scale exploitation of the fishing industry, bolstered by a ready market and value addition, which will spur the creation of a special economic zone.
He assured the local fishermen that the authority will not interfere with their activities during the construction stage.
By Raymond Zaka and Hussein Abdullahi