Nairobi: Construction of the planned second transport corridor is now in doubt after the cancellation of a process aimed at building infrastructure in Lamu to accommodate bigger ships. The request for Expression of Interest (EOI) to set up the first three berths at Manda Bay in Lamu, which was sought last year, has been called off. The ground breaking for the berths, which was expected to begin this year, is intended to aid in handling huge shipments required for the project’s seven components estimated to cost $16 billion (Sh1.28 trillion).
In September last year, the government invited eligible construction firms to submit EOI to undertake various works for the berths. The bids were opened on October 15.
Although a feasibility study for the entire second transport corridor is expected to be submitted to the Ministry of Transport this month, the government had relied on earlier studies that had identified Lamu Port’s viability.
Early this year, however, the government terminated the process in a letter signed by a Transport ministry official on behalf of the permanent secretary and addressed to the firms that submitted their bids.
'We thank you for participating in the expression of interest for the construction of Lamu port at Manda Bay. The proceedings have been terminated in accordance to the Public Procurement and Disposal Act 2005, section 36, which states that procuring entity may, at any time, terminate procurement proceedings without entering into contract,' the letter said.
The works involved dredging and reclamation of the three berths to accommodate containerised cargo, general cargo and bulk cargo. Construction of associated infrastructure for the three berths was also required.
Contacted for comment, the official, who is not the ministry’s spokesperson, could not explain why the tender was cancelled. 'When the relevant department in charge of the project is ready they will tell us,' a procurement officer in the ministry said.
There are various reasons why a procuring entity would cancel a tender, according to those familiar with the process. If the tender was not procedurally done, it could be annulled to start the process afresh. Also, if the firms that submit bids do not qualify for the job, fresh tenders may be sought.
While vested interests could also be at play, the procuring authority might cancel a tender after losing interested in the project.
According to the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, a person who submits tender documents may request the procuring entity to give reasons for terminating the proceedings within 14 days of the request.
Lamu port and its supportive infrastructure is estimated to cost more than $1 billion (Sh80 billion) according to the inter-ministerial lead consultant on the project, Dr Mutule Kilonzo. The port will have a total of 22 berths with a quay that will lie on 1,000 acres land.
The second transport corridor has other components which include a super highway that will connect Lamu to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Juba in Southern Sudan, the two target markets. The three regions will also be connected with a standard gauge railway line.
It is planned that a merchant oil refinery will be constructed in Lamu and will be connected by an oil pipeline on both ways, from Juba to Lamu to process crude oil from South Sudan before shipment.