Sense of urgency as EA region upgrades its roads, airports

Wednesday August 23 2017
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From Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Kenya, to Bugesera in Rwanda, Entebbe Road in Uganda and Dar es Salaam’s new Terminal 3, things are looking up. FOTOSEARCH

By Allan Olingo


Recently, Rwanda commissioned the construction of the $818 million Bugesera International Airport that is billed to become the region’s most modern airport, joining the other East African states in an infrastructural development race mostly funded by China.

Bugesera International, scheduled for completion in 2018, will replace the Kigali International Airport. It will initially handle about 1.7 million passengers a year.

At the groundbreaking ceremony, President Paul Kagame vowed to ensure that the project is completed on time.

The construction will be done in two phases, with the first costing $418 million and the extension works in the second phase billed at $400 million.

According to the designs developed by Mota Engil Africa through its consultants ACV/ADM, the first phase will involve the construction of a passenger terminal, a cargo terminal building, a 4.2-km runway to handle large commercial aircraft that the Kigali International Airport cannot accommodate.


This phase will also entail construction of the air traffic control tower, airport operation offices, and the rescue and fire containment facilities.

The second phase will see expansion of its cargo handling facilities.

READ: Construction work on Bugesera Airport starts


Tanzania is constructing a new terminal at the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) and a six-lane road in the capital Dar es Salaam, expected to be complete by the end of 2018.

The new Terminal 3 at the JNIA is now three-quarters complete. The first phase, which involves a 60,000 m² main terminal building, parking lots, platforms, access roads and the taxiway is already ready.

Early this year, President John Magufuli’s administration decided to use domestic revenue to complete construction work in the second phase, which will cost $128.4 million.

The total cost of this airport expansion programme will be $248 million.

Expansion works
The contractor has already started work on the second phase of the project. Acting Tanzania Airports Authority director general, Salim Msangi, said that once complete, the airport will handle 3.5 million passengers annually.

“The second phase, which is now in progress will see an upgrade of the drainage system, the ground lighting, existing taxiways and construction of a secondary runway,” Mr Msangi said.


In Uganda, the government is upgrading the Entebbe International Airport, with 17 per cent of the work done by April this year.

“So far, we have spent $24.7 million out of the $198.6 million we received from China to undertake this project. The contractor has made progress in the construction of the cargo facility, with its drainage being 70 per cent complete,” said Dr David Mpango, the Civil Aviation Authority acting managing director.

The expansion will also see the modification and modernisation of the main terminal building to handle an expected increase in traffic to 1,000 passengers hourly, from the current 450.

The contractor will also extend the car park to accommodate 360 vehicles from the current 100.

Tanzania is also overhauling its air navigation systems under a separate agreement with South Korea worth $9.3 million.

The contractor has already completed automation of the aeronautical information management system, airport police housing units and modification of the VVIP terminal.

READ: Uganda's marvel for tourist to gape at: $500m road


In Nairobi, Kenya has finished upgrading its airport, with the international terminal completed in April, but is yet to be officially opened.

President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the $650 million terminal upgrade project for Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in December 2013.

So far, the airports authority has completed the rebuilding of Terminal 1A arrivals and departures and Terminal 1B general arrivals. In 2015, it opened terminal 2A which provides additional capacity of five million passengers.

“In total, we have now have a capacity increment of over 7.5 million. On top of that we are considering redesigning terminals 1B, 1C and 1D, which will give us additional capacity of 3.5 million, pushing the capacity to 11 million.

“This is before we even enhance the terminals with technology, which will enhance the capacity to 14 million passengers,” Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said.

On roads, Nairobi, Dar and Kampala have seen the construction of bypasses, interchanges and expressways to improve movement in and around these cities as they jostle for foreign direct investment.

Key gateway

Nairobi has completed several bypasses, and roads expansion within its commercial district to ease movement.

Currently, it is gearing up for the completion of the Africa Development Bank-funded $73 million Outer-ring road. The one-way road is now a six-lane affair, complete with service lanes, interchanges and flyovers.

“We will have this road ready for use by the end of next month as what is remaining is minor. These projects are part of the wider decongestion programme aimed at reducing travel time through improved traffic flow. I have inspected the progress and so far, it is good,” CS Macharia added.

The city is also upgrading Ngong Road, one of its main arteries through a Japanese-funded loan of $19.8 million. The project is part of the Nairobi Roads Network Improvement Programme for the expansion, rehabilitation and recarpeting of most roads in the city.

“The Nairobi Roads Network Improvement Programme is part of a strategy to improve the road network. This is critical as Nairobi, as a key gateway to the region and window into Kenya, is a fast-growing regional commercial and logistics hub.

“A good artery of roads will only be as efficient as the smaller feeder roads that supply it with both human and vehicular traffic,” Silas Kinoti, the acting director-general of Kenya Urban Roads Authority said.

READ: Kenya to cap prices of land bought for public projects

Dar road upgrade

Tanzania has also twice this year launched Dar es Salaam road upgrade projects that are intended to ease traffic flow through the capital city.

In April, President Magufuli and World Bank President Dr Jim Yong Kim commissioned construction of the $88 million Ubungo Interchange, one of Tanzania’s latest roads improvement projects touching on its capital city.

The country is also constructing the $17 million Tazara overpass roads meant to decongest Dar es Salaam.

The six-lane roads project, which is already 30 per cent complete, is expected to significantly slash the time motorists spend on the Morogoro, Mandela and Sam Nujoma roads that are notorious for snarl-ups.

The Ubungo Interchange project is funded by a World Bank loan. The bank also supported the first phase of the Dar es Salaam Rapid Bus Transit (Dart), which is already operational.

Tanzania Transport Minister Prof Makame Mbarawa said the ministry decided to work on the Ubungo project as the junction had become a stumbling block to the smooth operation of Dart.

READ: The changing face of Dar es Salaam

Compensation wrangles
“Of the total project amount, $78.5 million will be used for construction, $3.9 million for design and consultancy and $0.7 million for compensation to those who will be evicted to make way for the project.

“We will closely monitor the work to ensure it is up to acceptable standards and that it is completed within the contractual timeframe,” Prof Mbarawa said.

Tanzania National Roads Agency chief executive officer Patrick Mfugale said construction of the interchange by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation will take 30 months, with expected completion in September 2020.

“This project is part of the Dar es Salaam Urban Transport Improvement Project (DUTP). For instance, the Morogoro road alone services more than 60,000 people daily, so this interchange will ease this nightmare that has been part of the road which is the city’s gateway,” Mr Mfugale said.

Tanzania is also banking on the DUTP to work on the third and last phase of its bus rapid transit along the Nyerere, Sam Nujoma and Ali Hassan Mwinyi roads.

From the designs, the road will have three levels. The bottom lane will be used by vehicles on Morogoro Road, the second by vehicles directed using the traffic lights while the third is for vehicles passing along the Mandela and Sam Nujoma roads.

In Uganda, completion of the Entebbe expressway has been revised to May next year over compensation wrangles. The $476 million 54-km Entebbe–Kampala Expressway, a four-lane toll highway under construction, is 85 per cent complete, and will link Entebbe International Airport to Kampala.

It is one of the most modern and ambitious infrastructure projects that President Yoweri Museveni’s government has undertaken in recent times.

READ: East Africa attracts $3.4b in project funding