5 December 2012

East Africa: Invest and Expedite Ports At the Earliest

Last week, the financial and business media pot their spotlight on developments in the ports and and maritime.

The first was the Kenya's planned second port of Lamu, in north east of the country, which officials say is is on course and ahead of time.

The project, comprises the Lamu port at Manda Bay, a railway line, highway, oil refinery, oil pipeline and airports at Isiolo, Lamu and Lodwar, will cost about $23.4 billion.

The Lamu Port Southern Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET), also known as the Second Transport Corridor.

Once complete, this project is expected to transform periphery towns like Lamu, Isiolo and Lodwar into resort towns and special economic zones especially Lamu town.

Early this year in April, Tanzania and Uganda set aside over 13,000ha of land for the construction of a railway line to link Tanga port and Kampala via Musoma port, according to Tanzania's minister for Transport, Omari Nundu.

The initiative is aimed at integrating their economies as well as that of the region.

The joint investment project is estimated to cost over $3 billion and would include construction of a standard gauge 880km railway line from the Mwambani port (Tanga) to Lake Victoria's Musoma port in Tanzania and Port Bell in Uganda.

The railway line is expected to handle cargo from Uganda and South Sudan via Tanga and Musoma ports.

The Port is an integral part of a Rail-Marine corridor Tanga-Arusha-Musoma- Port Bell/Jinja. At the moment Uganda's southern corridor port route is through Dar es Salaam.

Tanga is also closer in distance to Uganda, northern Tanzania, western Kenya, parts of Southern Sudan eastern DRC and Rwanda compared to the traditional ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam.

Only the same week, the European Union (EU) EU's Ambassador to Tanzania, Filiberto Ceriani Sebregondi was quoted by this paper as saying that shipping costs at the Dar es Salaam Port now stood at 150%, the highest in the World.

The high costs attributed to delays in cargo handling.

Ports, transport and infrastructure development are integral part of economic growth.

With the progress in Common Market, the business people should push the political class in the member states and the EAC to expedite these projects as doing business can only be facilitated by how the ports are functioning.

Delays mean slow business, lower taxes, jobs, underproductive and underperforming of the economy.

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