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Mombasa Deepening Begins

On July 12, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) of Kenya stopped the dredging of Likoni channel because of alleged breach of environmental constraints.

Iddi Mambo, chairman of the Coast Development Transparency Initiative (Codeti) informed NEMA that waste that was to have been discharged 50 miles at sea by Contractor Van Oord Dredging and Marine Contractors, was seen floating near shore.

“We have stopped the exercise for two weeks to assess the implications because opinion from marine experts is split,” Ben Wemali, Mombasa compliance and enforcement officer, said.

Environmental constraints are spelled out in the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) master plan, which was prepared by Royal Haskoning Maritime of the Netherlands.

Earlier, the Kenya Wildlife Service had also raised concern, saying dredged materials were being dumped close to a marine park.

Mambo said that local people had complained about the waste, that it interfered with the feeding habits of the fish, and that it could attract sharks.

Project History
After years of planning, stops and starts, the long-awaited dredging of the harbor of Mombasa, Kenya, began in June.

Kenya is renovating the aging port that has been losing cargoes to the larger and better-equipped Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania, a massive natural harbor with few delays. At Mombasa, larger ships had to wait for high tide to berth.

Van Oord Dredging and Marine Contractors won the dredging contract from the Kenya Ports Authority in October 201, against bidders that included Sino Hydro Corporation Ltd of China, Jan de Nul Dredging International, Rohde Nielsen and Boskalis International, in a process that began in April of last year.

Van Oord already has one dredge in the harbor and another on the way, according to the Kenyan publication Business Daily.

KPA managing director Gichiri Ndua announced June 13 that the dredging would start in June and be completed in 18 months. At the same time, the port is building its first new cargo berth since 1980, No. 19.

The port’s older, smaller berths cannot accommodate all of today’s larger ships.

The two projects together are estimated to cost more than Sh10 billion, Ndua said. The dredging alone will cost more than half that, at Sh5.2 billion (about $58,591,549.30, according to xe.com).

The main Kilindini channel will be dug to a depth of 15 meters (49 feet), while the container berths will be 12.5 meters (41 feet). Dredging operations will be conducted at night to minimize traffic disruptions.

Some container berths will also be lengthened from 600 to 760 meters (1969 to 2296 feet). The port improvements are part of the Kenyan government¹s “Vision 2030” development plan.

The container terminal portion of the project has received almost $200 million of its financing from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, in exchange for a 70 percent stake in the project.

The port has been exploring public-private deals for years, but the dock workers union opposes privatization.

The history of this project is itself lengthy, with “kickoff” being announced as long ago as 2007. That was the year a cargo pile-up at the port threatened several manufacturers and was described as a “crisis.”

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