The Lamu Port Feasibility Study is the EIA?

This post has been created to clarify misinformation given to the Kenyan public and some investors that the feasibility study carried out by the Japanese Port Consultants is equivalent to the environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the Lamu port. Unfortunately most people do not have the time to read the 400-so pages of the study and take this as matter of fact despite the report itself clearly spelling out that the two are separate.

The study in fact recommends for a lot more to be carried out than the EIA alone and clarifies that the consultants only undertook a baseline study with the environmental facts, which is then to be used by the Ministry of Transport to carryout an EIA that spells the solution for mitigation. Considering that the study cost the government of Kenya (GOK) more than $20 million, the most expensive feasibility study ever undertaken by the GOK, it’s shocking to see that they are to launch the project next month despite not following a majority of the requirements and recommendations spelled out in the study. Are we really getting our moneys’ worth?

To quote directly the study states:

Chapter 13: “An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study is required for the first three (3) berths as stipulated in the Environmental Management and Coordination Act of 1999, which requires any proponent of a construction project of this nature to undertake and submit an EIA Report in the prescribed form as provided by the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), who is responsible for issuing, varying or cancelling any such licenses. Without an EIA license, construction cannot commence…The proponent [Ministry of Transport] will also be required to actively participate in stakeholder forums in which the project will be explained and discussed with stakeholders. Minutes of such forums are mandatory for approval….Before the commencement of work, an Archaeological Impact Assessment (AIA) by National Museums of Kenya will also be necessary.”

Chapter 14: “In order to start construction of Lamu Port, it is mandatory to carry out Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and to obtain the EIA License from NEMA. It is recommended that the Project Owner, i.e. MOT, will apply for the procedure to NEMA immediately after the construction plan, including the layout plan of Lamu Port, will be authorized by the government of Kenya. In addition, it is necessary to hold “the Stakeholders Meetings” twice at the site, formulation of “Resettlement Action Plan (RAP)”, and budgeting for and execution of the Compensation for Project Affected People (PAP).”

Other steps that were listed in the study but have not been followed are:

1. Establishment of New Lamu Port and Port Management Body (PMB) which is to oversee:

a) Land Acquisition and Resettlement,
b) EIA monitoring
c) Creation of a new port management system as a top priority to ensure navigation safety for small local ships. This includes introduction of Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) and Automatic Information System (AIS), etc.

2. The “The Land Area of Lamu Port” must be clarified under National Land Bill to define the boundary of the port, and also be defined based on the KPA Act.

3. Development Policy of Port Metropolis behind Lamu Port must be created considering the increase in population expected of 1.2 million

Please take time to read the full LAPSSET Feasibility Study for those who can, or read the summaries in Chapter 13 and Chapter 14 if the full report is too long for you. The study clearly informs the GOK on how ensure sustainable development, what all Kenyans want, and need. Unfortunately, the GOK continues to disregard the importance of the planning steps outlined, thus belittling the amount of tax money spent to obtain the expert advice they themselves sought.


  1. Reply

    Patrick Muraguri

    I am a registered lead expert of EIA and environment Audits. I can conform to you that a feasibility study is NOT the same as an EIA study. The former will usually look at all viable alternatives to come up with the most practical that is then subjected to an EIA study.
    It is upon you and like minded persons and organizations to immediately write to NEMA and point out this anomaly.
    For such a huge venture the government should float an international tender for an independent EIA study. Please act quickly for it is the people of LAmu who will be most impacted by the project.

  2. Reply

    Makoniare Oduor

    Regarding EIA; the kenyan way is generally to look at it as a means of obtaining clearence to go ahead with a project. This is a wrong way of looking at EIA. In many EIA reports, the environmental plan component (EMP) which is supposed to be the blueprint for the EIA implementation and follow- up does not contain clear objectives and indicators with regard to proposed mitigation measures to be taken on projected negative impacts. I am of the opinion that NEMA should formulate and implement strict guidelines that require proponents to present a comprehensive EMP with clear indicators and thresholds for negative impacts following the issuance of licence. They should also require of the proponent to incorporate the EMP requirements in the project contract. Otherwise we will not be able to benefit from EIA through improved environmental performance of projects and transfer of knowledge to future EIA studies as intended by the EIA system.

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