The Kenya National Highways Authority has signed a public-private contract worth $620m with a consortium led by South African contractor Group Five for the construction of a 530km motorway between the coastal town of Lamu and the central town of Isiolo.
The road will be part of the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET), one of the most important of a raft of ambitious infrastructure projects in east Africa.
James Macharia, the Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure, said the road would help develop 10 towns.
He commented: "We are achieving a milestone that shows the Lamu-Isiolo road is no longer a pipe dream. This means the growth of this country will be massively enhanced."
The LAPPSET corridor plan (Wikimedia Commons)
The project is expected to commence next June and will be opened for operation after four years.
The Lamu Road Consortium, which also includes the Development Bank of Southern Africa, will operate the road for 25 years. At Isiolo, the road will link with the planned Isiolo-Lokichar road, which will take it to about 50km of the Ugandan border.
The project is being funded by the Development Bank of South Africa and the repayment is expected to take a period of 13 years.
The scheme is part of a $23bn plan to build a standard-gauge railway, a motorway, two pipelines, three airports and a fibre-optic cable link between Lamu, Juba in South Sudan, and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.
Top image: The historic port of Lamu (Creative Commons)