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Kenya in talks with Uganda, DRC on Northern Corridor upgrade

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Northern Corridor
Roadside stations to be constructed along the Northern Corridor will have parking space for heavy commercial vehicles. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Co-ordination Authority (NCTTCA) is holding a series of meetings with the governments of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda to seek ways of improving the corridor in the two countries.

NCTTCA executive secretary Omae Nyarandi last week led a delegation to Kinshasa where he met Transport and Infrastructure ministry officials from the two countries to push for the development of the Mbarara-Kisangani road.

The visit followed a directive by the 30th sitting of the Northern Corridor Council of Ministers held in Mombasa on August 3.Speaking to Shipping in a phone interview, Mr Nyarandi said although the talks were in their formative stage, the NCTTCA was looking into ways of bringing on board development partners to fund the project.

“The African Development Bank (AfDB) has expressed interest but we are first talking to the two governments to see how the project will be actualised,” he said.

“Our main objective was to first share information and get updates on the Mbarara-Kisangani road network infrastructure projects and get assurance of high level commitments for further bilateral engagements.”

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The Council directed the NCTTCA secretariat to work with DRC and Uganda and mobilise funds from development partners in order to upgrade the Mbarara-Kisangani road network.

The Northern Corridor road sections of Mbarara-Bushenyi-Kikorongo-Mpondwe-Kasindi-BeniKomanda-Kisangani (940km) form a key network that is also part of the 6,000km Trans-African Highway from Lagos in Nigeria to Mombasa.

The Northern Corridor runs from Mombasa port to the DRC, with sections of the road in Uganda and the DRC in bad condition. In Kenya, the road is tarmacked from Mombasa to Malaba, although some sections also need expansion as they are quite narrow and prone to accidents.

The corridor is the artery that links the landlocked countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC and South Sudan with Mombasa port and is crucial for the development of the region with delays in movement of goods along the corridor resulting in huge economic losses.

Inside DRC, the Kasindi-BeniKomanda-Kisangani road is about 760km long with most part of this Class II section unpaved, putting it in a category below a road of international standards.

In Uganda, the Mbarara-Bushenyi-Kikorongo-Mpondwe 180km section with a link to Kasese is a class II paved road with most part in a fair condition, while the Bushenyi-Katunguru section needs reconstruction.

The NCTTCA will soon organise a tripartite meeting bringing together development partners and government officials from DRC and Uganda.

Mr Nyarandi said upgrading of the road network would improve security along the corridor; provide the missing link along the Trans-African Highway as well as increase the value of agricultural produce due to improved access to local and international markets. “It will also increase the intra-African trade, thus boosting socioeconomic development on the continent,” he added.

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