BY MWAKWAYA RAYMOND
Hopes of turning round the Lamu hoteliers’ fortunes are at the end of the tunnel following the ongoing infrastructure of the LAPSSET project courtesy of the national projects being undertaken there.
For a while now, the county’s tourism industry has been in the doldrums but with the several projects in the line, it has rekindled hopes for future prospects by bolstering security within and without the area.
Through government initiatives, the county is experiencing a renewal after President Uhuru Kenyatta commissioned one of the three berths at the Lamu Port that calls for massive infrarstructural changes and improvement to accommodate the envisaged human activities.
Under the radar is Manda Airport which is destined to have a new runway designed to handle larger and heavier aircrafts for human traffic and cargo. The move will definitely increase the historic town’s appeal as a fly-in destination.
Vision 2030 Delivery Secretariat Director-General (DG) Kenneth Mwige says both the air and seaports will have immense input as far as Lamu infrastructure is concerned.
“Both Lamu Port and the Manda Airport expansion projects currently underway will pose a great deal in boosting the tourism sector once they’re completed,” he said recently when he toured the area.
The airport is being upgraded by widening the existing one-kilometer runway and addition of a new two-kilometre runway to support tourism sector.
According to Mwige the area is opening up very fast as ‘a hub for regional transshipment trade’ following the operationalization of Berth No. 1 of the port whose connectivity will scale-up the facility’s competitiveness that will then, attract investments regionally and globally.
Other major projects underway that are set to cushion the tourism sector include the Lamu-Garissa Road which falls under the Lamu and Garissa counties.
The road, under the LAPSSET Corridor, has a total length of 453 kilometers and will cost Sh17.9 billion.
This road project is expected to be a gateway to the LAPSSET Corridor and provide connectivity to other parts of Kenya through highways and railway apart from the neighbouring countries.
These expansion works of the archipelago will also be a milestone in boosting and revamping the ‘dead’ tourism industry.
Stakeholders of the hospitality industry are optimistic the opening of the port, massive infrastructure improvement and expansion of Manda Airport will assure them dividends on their investments.
“Improvement of infrastructure plays a vital role in travel and tourism trade,” says Lamu’s director of Betlysalam Resort Said Swabu.
The Coast region, according to Swabu, stands to benefit immensely economically from the improvement of roads and expansion of Manda Airport due to the national government’s huge investments on the projects.
“The historical county will now become a world-class destination with global recognition, attracting more tourists and investors,” he notes in an interviewed by The Coast Media Group.
However, Swabu adds that the county will still face serious power and water supply challenges and urged both the national and county governments to address the issues as soon as possible.
“Lamu is a very important tourist destination for local and international visitors as well as investors and must have reliable power and water supply,” says he.
(Edited by Mwakera Mwajefa)