Plans are afoot to construct a six-lane superhighway connecting Mombasa and Kigali. The road is scheduled to be completed by 2024.
In a charter agreed upon by 13 government agencies and departments, the Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha) promised to work with roads agencies from Uganda and Rwanda in constructing the 1,600km road within three to 10 years.
This initiative is part of on-going efforts to ease congestion on the Northern Transport Corridor. The project is also being carried out in anticipation of increased transit cargo in East Africa as regional economies continue to post robust growth.
“As traffic increases on the Northern Corridor, we will expand it into a superhighway. It is work in progress and we will start with the most congested areas,” said Kenha director general Meshack Kidenda, in a phone interview with Smart Company on Friday.
The Mombasa Port Community Charter is an agreement among government and private sector stakeholders to undertake reforms aimed at restructuring operations on the Northern Corridor in a bid to increase efficiency. The charter was also signed by 12 non-governmental agencies and private sector lobby groups.
KeNHA is already working to improve segments of the road. Mombasa Road is a dual carriageway up to the Athi River interchange. The agency says expansion of the stretch between Athi River interchange and Machakos turn-off will begin before 2016.
By 2017, the Changamwe-Miritini section is supposed to have been converted into a dual carriageway. Kenha is to build high-speed weigh-in-motion systems at Mariakani, Athi River, Gilgil, and Webuye.
Mr Kidenda said a consultant was conducting a feasibility study on the project and that the government would hand over the management of its segment of the road to a private contractor, who would recover costs and earn profits through tolling. This is in keeping with announcements made by the National Treasury earlier this year.
The government is currently seeking consultants to conduct feasibility studies on concession agreements for the Nairobi-Thika, Nairobi-Mombasa, and Nairobi-Nakuru highways.
TradeMark Africa (TMA), a donor agency that has promised to support governments in the region in the construction of the road, says the new highway should be equipped with modern technology such as high-speed weigh-in-motion systems and speed cameras.
Kenya and Uganda are investing in a standard gauge railway (SGR) to ease congestion on the Northern Corridor and take the pressure off the roads.
According to the Mombasa charter, the government plans to shift 35 per cent of cargo traffic to rail by 2018. Last year, rail accounted for 3.6 per cent of cargo in Kenya. The Mombasa-Kigali superhighway, TradeMark Africa (TMA) says, will complement the SGR.
“We need to modernise both the road and the train. Cargo carried by road is easier to divert to cities and towns that are not necessarily along the corridor. With the train, you cannot stop anywhere you wish or easily divert cargo,” said the TradeMark Africa (TMA) country director, Dr Chris Kiptoo.
The Port of Mombasa is the main gateway to East and Central Africa. The amount of cargo coming through the port is expected to hit 44 million tonnes in 2025, from about 21.9 million tonnes in 2012. This growth is expected to outstrip the capacity of the port and dramatically increase traffic on the Northern Corridor.
The charter was designed because of the urgent need to improve the efficiency of firms and government agencies using the port in order to match government investment in infrastructure. The charter requires the Kenya Revenue Authority to speed up pre-clearance of cargo before ships dock at the port.
The Kenya Ports Authority is expected to convert the facility into a landlord port by 2016 while all government agencies have undertaken to automate their processes and work round the clock by the end of the year.
Legislation that is quickly becoming obsolete due to advances in port technology and port management systems will also be overhauled.
Although the Kenya Maritime Authority will be tasked with enforcing some of these measures, the Office of the President will ensure they are implemented by including provisions of the charter in the performance contracts of the signatory agencies, authorities, and departments.
Source: Daily Nation
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TradeMark Africa.