28 August 2009

East Africa: EAC Chief Decries Poor Transport System

Kigali — The Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC), Juma Mwapachu, has decried the region's poor transport system, saying that little has been done to improve it.

Mwapachu made the remarks in Arusha, yesterday, while opening a two-day conference on sustainable transport systems, conducted by the EAC secretariat, in collaboration with the United States department of transport.

"Many of the EAC mega cities such as Dar es Salaam, Nairobi and Kampala are now experiencing conurbations. This phenomenon has huge implications on motorized traffic," Mwapachu said.

"The challenge lies in reducing traffic through better transport planning systems which are also environmentally sound."

The conference is discussing a wide range of issues which include; road safety, facilitation of the disabled to access transport services, urban traffic congestion and sustainable funding of transport systems.

Others are; developing regional transport corridors and inter-modality of seaports-rail-road; partnership opportunities and impact on development; and the role of technology transfer centres.

The EAC chief underscored that the systems must also address the growing special needs of the physically challenged populations which he said, "is a major policy deficit in the EAC transport systems"

The workshop is part of the ongoing collaboration between EAC and US aimed at improving transport infrastructure services in the region

It is a result of the first retreat of the EAC Ministers held in Kampala last year. Mwapachu noted that sustainable mobility cannot be realized without political will and institutional reorganizations at the national levels of partner states.

"Our duty would be to bring forth the results of your workshop to the EAC Partner States for review and decision," he added.

He told participants that it is efficient mobility that facilitates connections to markets, creates jobs, enhances educational opportunities and secures access to health care.

During the conference, EAC officials and the US delegation will share experience with delegates from the five partner states of the regional bloc on how challenges can be overcome.

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