The upgrade of a 118 km road section connecting Kenya and Uganda has gathered momentum after the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) approved Sh26.1 billion ($253 million) for the project.
The Kapchorwa-Suam-Kitale Road project comprising a dual carriageway is expected to be completed in 2021.
“The project road has been receiving periodic maintenance but due to the black cotton soils in the area, the rolling and mountaneous terrain of most of the sections and heavy rainfall around the project area, the road quickly deteriorates and becomes impassable once it rains,” said AfDB in an earlier assessment of the project.
Once complete, the road is expected to improve trading across the border. It passes through agricultural land and it will be a boon for farmers that want to sell their produce on either side of the border.
Uganda is Kenya’s largest trading partner having absorbed Sh68.57 billion of Kenyan exports in 2016.
Funds will be divided between the two countries with Kenya receiving Sh15.2 billion ($147.3 million) while Uganda will take Sh10.9 billion ($105.7 million). The loans from the AfDB will cover 89 per cent and 88 per cent of the Uganda and Kenya project costs respectively.
The Government of Uganda and Kenya’s contribution will be 11 per cent and 12 per cent of their respective country project costs.
Kenya will build a 32 kilometre Eldoret Town bypass which is expected to ease traffic congestion as motorists no longer have to pass through the town centre. Uganda will also construct a one-stop border post at Suam.
The AfDB estimates that the upgrade from gravel to bitumen standard will drastically cut travel time in Uganda (Kapchorwa-Suam) from four hours to 1.5 hours. On the Kenyan side, travel time from Suam to Kitale will fall from 1.5 hours to 45 minutes.
The Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) has invited bidders through International Competitive Bidding (ICB) to take part in the execution of the multinational project.
AfDB director of Infrastructure, Cities and Urban Development Department Amadou Oumarou said the financial intervention on the project is part of the bank’s Ten Year Strategy.
“The proposed intervention also meets four of the High Fives by contributing to the integration of the EAC countries; improving the quality of life by providing socio-economic facilities to people in the zone of influence; increasing agricultural production through access to markets and the reduction in transport expenses, which lowers the cost of doing business that will play pivotal role in industrialization,” he said.
Credit: Business Daily