Kenyan and Ugandan traders using the common border crossings at Malaba and Busia may, from next month, find yet another route for shipping their wares as the two countries prepare to open another Customs point at Suam.
The two countries had been upgrading the Suam one-stop border Customs and immigration post into a one-stop-border post, making it the third such facility between them.
"The wider project includes the Kapchorwa-Suam-Kitale trade route and cost Ksh5 billion ($35 million). It is meant to improve transport and clearance of goods. The facility is due for opening by end of September," Kenya’s Interior and National Coordination Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo said.
The Kenya government says its border crossing point cost Ksh100 million ($700,000) and will have immigration, Customs, security and sanitation checks under one roof. The upgrade of the post and Kitale-Suam road have been done by separate entities but concurrently are due for completion by next month.
The project funded by African Finance Development Bank is supported by Kenya and Uganda governments and China State Engineering Construction Corporation the main contractor. “It will ease the movement of goods between our two countries and also open up the East Africa region, including South Sudan and Djibouti. We are banking on it to boost our cross-border business,” Omollo said after an inspection.
Kenya and Uganda say they will upgrade Lwakhakha one-stop border post in Bungoma to ease congestion at the main international Busia and Malaba border facilities.
“The two new border posts will enhance interconnectivity and open markets for the region. We are boosting our personnel to enhance services at the Customs points," Omollo said.
The Uganda government has been working on the crossing at Suam by also upgrading the Suam-Bukwo-Kapchorwa road, which is set to improve the regional economy.
According to Sudi Mwatela, the chairperson of Kenya Long Distance Truck drivers and Allied Workers’ Union, the upgrade of the road project will help decongest Busia and Malaba border posts that have recorded regular traffic snarl-ups.
“The road will be help decongest but we want to request the authorities to put safety measures on the Uganda side because the road is too steep and risky. If we are not careful, we will end up losing many lives,” Mr Mwatela told The EastAfrican.
Omollo said the project will boost inter-country security too, as well as attract business.
“This is a critical project between our two countries that will improve faster business clearance and support our local investors. Our people should be ready to invest more in cross-border trade soon,” he stated.