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Proposed road to boost border trade

Trade between Kenya, Uganda and the Neighbouring Countries is set to receive a major boost as a multi-agency team finalizes a survey on the state and economic viability of the Road linking Moroto in Uganda to Lodwar Kenya through Lokiriama and Lorugum.

The survey comes following a recommendation by the Chairman of Turkana Chamber of Commerce Mr Ewoton Pius on the need to prioritize the road connecting Moroto to Lodwar to further link up with Ethiopia and South Sudan.

The first phase of the Survey entailed a joint meeting that was held at Moroto District offices where Revenue Officer, Road Engineers, Private Sector Representatives among other officials from Kenya and Uganda shared their inputs in regards to the social economic potential of the Road linking Moroto to lodwar as well as existing challenges and opportunities.

According to Mr. John Deng, the Deputy Director for Infrastructure Management and Development for Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Authority, the ultimate goal of the Survey was to assess the economic viability of the Moroto Lodwar road, Come up with a report that will form a basis for further actions.

The aim of NCTTA is to promote seamless movement of people and goods. Another mandate is to support trade facilitation services including Customs in order to stimulate trade and spur economic development among the member states.

Ms. Jane Mabatsi, Road Engineer from LAPSSET Corridor Development Authority (LCDA) said with establishment of Lappset projects and the planned Turkana Resort city, construction of the road will create a better opportunity to link Uganda to the A1 road at Lodwar to further spur economic activities in the region.

“Turkana Resort city will come along with many opportunities which can be best harnessed when there is a good road in place. With the anticipated increase in the number of Tourists from the Neighboring countries, having a better road becomes a necessity”, added M.s Mabatsi.

While commenting on the current status of that road, Mr. Simon Nakucho,   Acting Director for Roads for Turkana County noted that, lack of clear distinction on where Lokiriama- Lodwar road falls made it difficult for resource allocation from the County side.

In order to address the challenge on the classification of Lokiriama- Lodwar road, the team promised to make a follow-up through the specific concerned authorities to find how best it can be categorized for it to be worked on.

Chairman of Turkana Chamber of Commerce Mr. Pius Ewoton appreciated the commitment and prompt action of NTTCA in conducting the Survey for Moroto- Lokiriama-Lodwar road.

” Turkana borders three international borders of Uganda, Ethiopia and South Sudan. Construction of Moroto-Lodwar road will play a critical role in linking the three countries, hence reducing the distance and cost initially incurred to transport people and goods” said Ewoton.

Mr. Ewoton further added that, “construction of this road will also promote the fishing sector by facilitating easy transportation of fish from Lake Turkana to Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and other countries hence promoting the comic status of the fisher folk and others along the fish value chain”.

During the survey, the team was also able to interact with the community members along that route.

Mr. Aribo Nangok, a resident of Lokiriama took the opportunity to express the challenges they have gone through due to the poor state of the road.

” The distance from Lokiriama to Moroto where we can easily get food supplies and other commodities is just 40 Kilometers. From here, Uganda can be the best opportunity for trade as compared to 160Kms distance to Lodwar” said Mr. Aribo.

Mr. Aribo further added that, with the devastating effects of drought, people are resorting to alternative livelihoods including doing business. The biggest setback in doing business with our counterparts in Uganda is the poor state of this road linking Moroto to Lodwar. Many people have lost their lives to accidents and it has made it very difficult to sustain the cost of maintaining vehicles and motorbikes operating here due to damages brought about by poor roads”.

The team later paid a courtesy call to Turkana County Commissioner Mr Wambua Muthama at his Office in Lodwar as part of collaboration with all the government agencies in promoting infrastructure development in the county and beyond.

The team is working on a consolidated report that will be forwarded to the key policy makers for assessment and action based on the findings of this survey.

The multi-agency team comprised Officers from Uganda National Roads Authority, Uganda Revenue Authority, Kenya National Highways Authority, Kenya Revenue Authority, LAPSSET Corridor Development Authority, Northern Corridor Transport and Transit Authority among others.

By Peter Gitonga

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