Hope for easy transportation of exports and imports through Kenya by EAC landlocked states as funds for Expressway project secured

Mombasa port in Kenya is the known channel for cargo both for import and export to the benefit of most of the countries in the East African region and there have been challenges to deal with the issues of easy transportation to and from the coast.

Countries like Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo are served better with importation and exportation of goods through the Mombasa port. There are however other significant volumes of cargo that go through the Dar es Salaam port though mainly the Tanzanian main land is to the benefit.

Apart from Kenya and Tanzania, other countries in the region are still struggling to embark on the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) network that would help the reduction on the cost of transport for cargo while regional flights remain minimal.

Now, there is hope that the long awaited East African Community (EAC) road project for the northern corridor Expressway will be constructed with funds already warranted by the African Development Bank (AfDB).

According to a press release issued recently by the EAC Secretariat, AfDB through its New Partnership for Africa’s Development and Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (NEPAD-IPPF) has approved a US$1.4 million grant to EAC for the feasibility study of the Multinational Kisumu-Kisian-Busitema-Busia Expressway.

The Expressway project is part of the Northern Corridor that runs from Mombasa to Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda through the port of Mombasa. It is the main corridor that transports the bulk of cargo that lands at the Indian Ocean ports inland to the five landlocked EAC Partner States.

Currently, the road sections forming the project consist of two-lane single carriageway bitumen sections that are heavily congested due to increased traffic movement for both cargo and passengers. This has resulted in increased travel times which results in higher vehicle operating costs and overall costs of doing business. 

The objective of the feasibility study is to determine the economic viability of upgrading the existing multinational road sections from single carriageway to expressway standards. The project has been prioritised by the respective Partner States and is expected to contribute to the delivery of economic infrastructure necessary for achieving tangible development outcomes for the region.

Speaking at the launch of the feasibility study, the EAC Deputy Secretary General (DSG) in charge of Infrastructure, Productive, Social and Political sectors, Mr Andrea Aguer Ariik Malueth, thanked AfDB for supporting the EAC in the preparatory study of the Multinational Expressway, which he said will catalyse the economy and development of the EAC region. 

He added that the feasibility study will result in the development of a smart corridor beyond the traditional concept of transport corridor by incorporating digital technology as well as the social and economic needs of the citizens of the EAC as its core elements, adding that it will revolutionise the movement of goods and services between Nairobi to Kampala, and beyond. 

He also commended the continuous contribution of the AfDB through its NEPAD-IPPF facility in supporting the EAC integration agenda, which started way back in 2004.  

Ariik disclosed that to date, eight multinational road projects have been successfully prepared to bankability under the EAC Multinational Road Development Programme with five of them have proceeded to investment.

According to Ariik, up to 80% of projects fail to take off due to inadequate preparation because there are insufficient feasibility studies being carried out to determine their economic financial, environmental, social and technical viability. 

“Therefore, the grants provided by NEPAD-IPPF to the EAC has enabled it to prepare high-quality and bankable regional infrastructure projects that are able to attract public and private sector financing,” said Ariik

He invited the AfDB and NEPAD-IPPF to the the 5th Retreat of Heads of State where they will discuss infrastructure development and financing in the region and at this event soon to be called the political leadership and investors will be taken through the regional priority projects.

AfDB Acting Manager for Infrastructure and Partnerships Division, Mr Epifanio Carvarlho de Melo, reaffirmed AfDB’s commitment to work closely with the EAC ensure the success of vital projects that are poised to transform the economy of the region. 

“Together, we have the unique opportunity to learn from one another, share experiences, and pave the way for a prosperous future for all residents of this region,” said Mr de Melo.

It should be noted that since the revamping of the EAC, the regional block has worked on the construction of four multinational roads to ease the movement of goods and services as efforts for political federation continue to gather pace.

Already completed projects are Namanga-Athi River, Arusha-Holili/Taveta-Voi, Malindi-Mombasa-Lunga Lunga/Tanga-Bagamoyo and Nyakanazi-Kasulu-Manyovu / Rumonge-Rutunga-Bujumbura while there are completed detailed designs for Masaka-Mutukula / Mutukula-Kyaka and Bugene-Kasulo-Kumnazi road, the Lusahunga-Rusumo / Kayonza-Kigali Road and the Uvinza-Kanyani and Uvinza-Mpanda / Gisuru-Rusengo and Makebuko-Bugarama roads. 

Concerning the Northern Corridor Expressway, feasibility studies will be carried out in one package to determine the economic feasibility and financial viability of developing the project components (roads and border posts) that connect the two countries to the rest of East Africa and beyond. 

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