Nairobi — President Uhuru Kenyatta says the Port of Mombasa must position itself to serve the interests of the entire East African Region. Speaking at the commissioning of the Kenya Ports Authority Berth 19 in Mombasa, Kenyatta said the berth is expected to increase the capacity of the port and facilitate a quicker processing of goods into the region.
Kenyatta said: "This port is critical to our region's development and commissioning of Berth 19 represents our commitment." He added that improving operations at the port will enhance the working relationship between East African countries and develop the entire region.
"My Government also undertook to deepen Kenya's economic ties with our neighbours in South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia, and to take very deliberate steps towards eliminating tariff and non-tariff while encouraging greater collaboration of our regional partners," said Kenyatta. He further promised to improve the transport infrastructure to widen the available trade routes and urged port workers to ensure that the clearance process is smooth and fast.
"Receiving, processing and transporting cargo to customers in a timely fashion is a critical indicator of our port's productivity. We are determined to upgrade road and rail links with our neighbours, starting with the building of a standard gauge railway from Mombasa to Malaba. Our Railway Master-plan intends that a branch line also extends to Kisumu even as the railway reaches Kampala and Kigali," explained Kenyatta.
He added that there are plans to develop a second container terminal and a by-pass to relieve the Likoni Channel of traffic and ease movement of goods between Kenya and Tanzania. "Aside from infrastructure development, we are hastening the removal of trade barriers through the rationalisation of procedures and systems with a view to eliminating unnecessary business costs," Kenyatta said.
The President asked Kenyans particularly businessmen and public servants to understand their role and embrace professionalism, integrity and the common good not only for their sake but also neighbouring countries.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who was in attendance, said the port will be of mutual business interest for all East African countries.
"The biggest enemy of the dog is one who prevents the dog from finding its food and in the same way the biggest enemy of the African people is that which obstructs them from exploring business opportunities," said Museveni.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame said the new venture would also bring East Africans together.