China’s CCCC halts Lamu port construction after al-Shabaab attack

China Communication Construction Company (CCCC) yesterday told 2,000 workers building the new Lamu Port in Kenya to vacate the site after al-Shabaab militants penetrated a US-Kenyan military base nearby on Sunday, 5 January, leaving three Americans dead.

A memo from the company to construction staff told them to stay away until Monday, 13 January while it seeks assurance from the Kenyan government that workers can be adequately protected, Kenya’s government news service KNA reported. 

KNA noted the suspension threatened to delay completion of the port, one of the main infrastructure projects Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta hopes will boost economic development in the East African country.

One US service member and two US defence contractors were killed when members of the Somali jihadist group al-Shabaab attacked the Manda Bay Airfield on Sunday morning. 

US troops and Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) repelled the attack, killing five militants, KDF said. 

Concern over al-Shabaab is heightened after it claimed responsibility for a bombing in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on 28 December that killed 80 people.

"All employees are to leave the site and go home immediately and wait for the notice to open the site," CCCC stated in its memo yesterday, said KNA.

Officials from the Kenya Ports Authority told KNA that the national government had given assurances that all government installations had been adequately secured.

"Consultations are currently underway to ensure that the suspension is lifted immediately," Engineer Abdullahi Samatar (GM Infrastructure Development) and Lamu Port General Manager told KNA.

Lamu County Commissioner, Macharia Irungu, sought to reassure CCCC.

"The National Government would like to assure the Chinese contractor that although their concerns are founded, we have the capacity to ensure that no attack happens on our key installations at the crucial Lamu Port," Irungu stated, reported KNA.

Image: ©GCR, illustration by Denis Carrier

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