PUBLISHED ON February 3rd, 2015

EAC road projects require firm commitment

SUCCESSFUL implementation of road projects in the East African region requires firm country commitment and prioritisation, the alignment of national and regional objectives and sufficient engagement and consultation with stakeholders.

According to the Director of Infrastructure at the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat Philip Wambugu it was also important to harmonise design, construction and operational standards in the region.

This is in addition to having clearly defined and coordinated roles, he said, of national and regional institutions at both implementation and operational stages.

The EAC senior official said this in his keynote address to the first Africa Bitumen/Asphalt Forum 2015 in Nairobi over the weekend. The two-day forum brought together more than 120 participants from 25 countries.

They are drawn from the various areas of refining, trading, shipping and consulting. The theme of the conference is, “New Frontiers in Global Bitumen Market.”

Road projects, Wambugu said, are hampered by challenges of insufficient resources; inadequate frameworks in terms of legislation and strong capital markets for mobilisation of funds; slow harmonisation of policies and their implementation at national levels; low levels of voluntary compliance; and insufficient automation.

“One of the critical problems that the trucking industry has been having is the lack of return cargo. A truck travelling from Mombasa or Dar es Salaam drops goods in Kigali or Bujumbura but is not allowed to pick return cargo, meaning that you pay for both ways as the transporter,” said Wambugu.

Officiating at the opening of the meeting Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure Michael Kamau said that the construction of high quality roads is necessary for attaining a high level of social and political integration. “Bitumen and asphalt pavements remain the most popular materials in road construction.

It is therefore important that the right standards of bitumen and asphalt are adhered to,” said Kamau. Major corporate organisations taking part at the conference include the Host Group and Zahara Group, both from the Middle East. Others are the Richmond Group, an international conglomerate and trading and the logistics firm Reconcile.

The meeting was informed of the huge opportunities for investment in the roads sector in South Sudan by Joseph Kulang John, the Minister of Commerce, Industry, Mining and Investment of Central Equatorial State. In fact, only 62 km of roads in Juba are paved, constituting the only paved roads in the whole of South Sudan, he said.

Source: All Africa

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