The East African Community is to launch the Tanzania-Kenya section of a regional roads project running from Tanzanian to Sudan.
The project, touted as a major boost to the region’s economies, will cost more than Ksh12 billion ($150 million).
It will be launched by Presidents Mwai Kibaki and Jakaya Kikwete on the Arusha-Namanga Road.
The two will then attend the 10th Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State of the East African Community in Arusha.
The Arusha-Namanga-Athi River road is a collaborative effort between the EAC, partner states and donors targeting projects in the region’s transport sector. It seeks to ease traffic from Zambia, through Tanzania, Kenya to Ethiopia, and Uganda up to Sudan.
Last week, the EAC Sectoral Council on Transport Communications and Meteorology met in Arusha and deliberated on the road’s launch.
Rwandan Minister for Infrastructure Linda Bihire chaired the meeting that was attended by Kenya’s Transport Minister Chirau Ali Makwere, Information and Communications Minister Samuel Poghisio, and Dr Wilfred Machage, Assistant Minister for Roads.
Others in attendance were Philipe Njoni, Minister of Transport, Posts and Communications, Burundi; John Nasasira, Minister of Works and Transport, Uganda; Ezekiel Chibulunji, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Development, Tanzania; Dr Maua Daftari, Deputy Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Tanzania and Julius Onen, EAC Deputy Secretary General (Projects and Programmes).
“The road is strategic to the region and forms part of the priority Corridor No. 5 of the EAC regional roads network from Tunduma in southern Tanzania to Moyale in northern Kenya, and onward to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,” read a statement.
The project is being co-financed by the African Development Bank for the Kenya component and the Japanese International Co-operation Agency for the Tanzania component providing jointly a loan totalling $156.3 million.
AfDB gave Kenya a $93.1 million loan for the 135km stretch between Athi River and Namanga while Tanzania received Ksh5 billion ($62.5 million) from JICA for the 105km-long Arusha-Namanga section.
The two governments have provided counterpart funding of up to Ksh600 million ($7.5 million) to augment the loans.
The Kenyan project started in November 2007 and is expected to be completed by the end of next year; while work on the Tanzanian link began late last year and is expected to last three years.
Ms Bihire said the Sectoral Council also witnessed the signing of the contract on the study for the EAC Transport Strategy and Regional Roads Development Programme between the EAC Secretariat and Africon Ltd.
“The objective of the transport strategy is to identify regional strategic priorities and resources for transport sector development and operational needs for the medium term in line with EAC development goals,” she said.
The strategy will be the EAC’s key planning document guiding the regional policies and investments in the transport sector for the next 10 years beginning next year.
The EAC Transport Strategy is in the overall context of the East African Trade and Transport Facilitation Project, which is a regional project aimed at facilitating transportation and flow of goods across the borders.
EAC estimates that transport costs in the region constitute about 30 per cent of the value of exports and imports. This has in turn made the region less competitive.
It is against this background that the World Bank approved preparation of the project to reduce transport costs in the region.
It will also enhance import and export traffic from the port of Mombasa, which is the more convenient port for Northern Tanzania on account of distance.
It is also part of the tourist circuit serving the national parks of Amboseli and Tsavo in Kenya and Manyara, Ngorongoro and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
The Arusha-Namanga section in Tanzania is 105km long and traverses flat to rolling terrain, including the Loliondo game control area.
It was constructed to bitumen standard in 1967. The road is narrow (about 5.5 metres) and deformed. Average speed is about 70 kph.
Traffic on the Arusha side is about 2,800 vehicles per day and decreases to 450 vehicles per day towards Namanga. The road has exceeded its design life and is urgently due for reconstruction.
The Namanga-Athi River section in Kenya is 135km long in rolling terrain. Having received recent interventions (recarpeting in 1995), the section is in better condition but is still characterised by deformations and potholes.
The section sustains quite heavy loading from the cement manufacturing and building industries in Athi River and Nairobi.
The development of the transport sector strategy involves consulting services, experts meetings and stakeholder consultations/workshops to assess in detail all modes of transport in their regional dimension.
The strategy will be the EAC key planning document guiding the regional policies and investments in the transport sector for a 10-year period (2010 – 2020).