Kenya and Uganda have committed to continue developing critical infrastructural projects along the Northern corridor transport network to promote cross border trade among the regional neighbours.
State Department for Transport Principal Secretary (PS) Eng. Joseph Njoroge highlighted that the operationalization of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) that was subsequently connected to the rehabilitated Meter Gauge Railway was geared towards improving movement of goods and services in the region.
He said Kenya had also improved the road network linkages to the SGR at Naivasha dry port terminus which was linked to the Meter Gauge Railway (MGR) all the way through Kisumu and Malaba border town to facilitated ease of doing business across the neighbouring countries.
Addressing a delegation from Uganda who paid him a courtesy call at his office, PS Njoroge said, “We are very committed to do these infrastructure developments of connectivity between Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the whole East Africa Community,” said Njoroge.
The PS said that the SGR was supposed to go all the way to Uganda but due to financial constraints it was revised and it terminated at Naivasha adding that plans are at an advanced stage to have Kenya and Uganda work jointly to have the SGR extended to Uganda.
Uganda Minister of State for Transport Mr. Fred Byamukama said that he is leading a delegation which is on an official tour to inspect progress on developments along the Northern corridor and toured the Mombasa port, Mariakani Weighbridge, the Inland Container Depot (ICD) Embakasi and took a ride on the SGR.
He said that the systems that have been introduced at the Mombasa port have helped reduce the cargo turnaround time.
“Uganda is undertaking rehabilitation of the MGR from Malaba to Kampala and from Malaba to Gulu which will serve the northern part of the country, it will also serve South Sudan and DRC,” said Byamukama.
He commended the seamless operation between Kenya and Uganda and their focus to shift cargo from road to rail which will spare roads in the East African region and ensure the roads last longer.
“We have witnessed the SGR carry 54 containers meaning that 54 trucks have been removed from the roads with just one trip,” said the minister.
According to the minister, Kenya and Uganda are in talks to extend the SGR from Naivasha via Kisumu to the Kenya-Uganda border at Malaba which will increase business between the two countries.
“We appreciate the Kenyan government for the infrastructural projects they have undertaken along the Northern Corridor which will be of benefit to the region and more so Uganda seeing that over 96 per cent of imports into Uganda pass through the corridor,” said Byamukama.
East African Community (EAC) and Regional Development Principal Secretary Dr. Belio Kipsang said that as a ministry they are working to improve the ease of doing business in the region which will go a long way in helping the private sector become vibrant and get value for investment.
Kipsang said that they are working on mapping black spots along the northern corridor and improve the infrastructure with the aim of reducing accidents which lead to deaths and losses in vehicles and the goods they carry.
“Salgaa has been one of our biggest challenge and we are working on dueling and separating the road because we have lost so many lives there,” said Kipsang.
Northern Corridor Transit Transport Coordination Authority Executive Secretary Omae Nyarandi said that Uganda is a very important trading partner because out of the 34.4 million tons that were handled by the port of Mombasa in 2021, 7.2 million tons headed to Uganda which is the biggest chunk of the transit market.
Nyarandi said that what was handled by the SGR was 5.2 million tons from Mombasa to the Nairobi ICD and compared to what goes to Uganda generally you find that what goes to Uganda is more explaining that moving some of the cargo to Uganda through the railway will be a game changer in the regional trade.
By Joseph Ng’ang’a