KNA The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) is ready to commence construction of the much awaited Shimoni Fishing Port in Kwale County.
KPA contends the port will be a pioneer fishing harbour in the country and is expected to have a positive impact on trade and economic growth in the coastal region.
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.
KPA General Manager for Infrastructure Development, Eng. Vincent Sidai, announced during a stakeholders’ forum that construction of phase 1 of the project will begin July 2021.
Eng. Sidai said all mandatory requirements including but not limited to feasibility studies and environmental impact assessments have been met in readiness for the project which is estimated to be complete in the next 24 months.
“The works are expected to start any time this month and will be ready for commercial operations in 24 months’ time,” Eng Sidai said.
Eng. Sidai disclosed that at least 16 firms have expressed interest in the construction of the project at the tendering stage.
He at the same time informed the forum that KPA has plans to construct a modern fish market to serve the needs of local fisher folks.
Eng. Sidai said the existing Shimoni jetty will be rehabilitated by the Authority so as to continue serving the local folks and support tourism activities.
The KPA official said the new facility would 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 said KPA will ensure that the new port will provide a comfortable, convenient and clean environment for the fishing communities.
Speaking during the same meeting, Coast Regional Commissioner (RC), John Elungata, assured the area residents of the government’s commitment to ensure the successful completion of the project on time.
Elungata urged the local community to embrace the project, saying it would come with many and diverse job opportunities for their benefit.
“We expect this project to be alive by August 2022 and when it starts we will ensure the locals are given priority during recruitment of workers,” he said.
Lunga Lunga Member of Parliament (MP), Khatib Mwashetani, expressed delight with the progress of the project, saying it was gratifying to note that the government had prioritized it with clear timelines.
The MP asked the government to also factor provision of modern fishing gear for the local residents to enjoy maximum benefits of commercialized fishing.
“We want our fishermen to be empowered to be able to harvest fish from the deepest channels of the ocean,” said the MP.
Kwale Governor, Salim Mvurya, reiterated his support for the Shimoni Port project, saying his Administration will continue working closely with the KPA management to ensure the project is successfully completed on time.
Mvurya noted that the new fishing port will transform the lives of those making a living off the sea besides playing a pivotal role in the local economy.
Governor Mvurya announced that as part of the County government’s efforts to ensure the success of the project, it will invest in modern fishing gear, including boats for the benefit of the local fishermen.
He added that the Kwale County Government had set aside Sh10 million for improvement of water situation in areas bordering the fishing port this coming Financial Year.
“Since the Port will require more water, we are also calling upon KPA and other stakeholders to partner with us to ensure we have adequate water in this area,” said Mvurya.
The County Boss said as the multibillion Lamu Port begins working he has been looking forward to having the Shimoni Port initial works kick-off as soon as possible.
“The fishing sector can play a significant role in the development of ocean frontier counties such as Kwale but due to underdevelopment of fisheries infrastructure, utilization of marine resources has not been optimal” he said.