16 January 2016

East Africa: Port Reitz Project Comes With Ribbons

editorial

President Uhuru Kenyatta recently officially launched construction of the $31 million Port Reitz/Moi International Airport Access Road. This project will not only raise Mombasa' position as a more efficient logistics hub, but also make transit traffic much easier by allowing faster flow of goods.

TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) are overseeing the project. It is partly funded by the UK governmnet's Department of International Development with $20 million while the Kenya government is putting up the rest.

Basically, the project means expanding access/offtake for the Kipevu West Container Terminal which will in turn increase the capacity and efficiency at the Port of Mombasa

When completed, the $31 million investment being implemented by the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA), will support the expansion of the road to a dual carriageway and improve the existing Port Reitz and Moi International Airport access roads covering 6.4 kilometres in length.

It will also improve traffic movement at intersections, including the installation of traffic lights and grade separated junctions.

Frank Matsaert, the TMEA Chief Executive Officer said the much awaited upgrade of the Port Reitz Road is a crucial milestone in increasing access to physical markets and the facilitation of the movement of cargo along the Northern Corridor that caters for Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Trucks that ply this route are currently the lifeline of these countries. They ferry in industrial inputs, along with consumer goods, and also transport to Mombasa Port a range of exports.

An improved Port Reitz Road will reduce truck owners' operating costs along the transport route, to and from Kipevu West Container Terminal. It will also decrease the time it takes to enter and exit the port gates by facilitating access through the recently completed Kipevu West container terminal.

Mombasa has had its share of criticism concering congestion; some of it not deserved, but this new project will go a long way to limit occasions when trucks clog the roads. Congestion translates into extra costs, loss of and disruption of trade.

No one wants that, especially the hinterland countries that Mombasa serves. According to TMEA, improvement of these important links to both the airport and to the port will greatly improve traffic flow in Mombasa and the entire transport corridor. The Port Reitz Road will be crucial to the Kipevu West Container Terminal as it will be the only access to the new container terminal.

Specifically, the link will serve as a key catalyst to improving the cargo handling capacity of Mombasa port, in order to adequately serve Kenya's growing economy, as well as retaining the port as the preferred Port of use by the neighbouring economies.

Speed is of essence in trade. It suffers badly whenever there are snarl ups. In fact, speed is at the very core of the supply chain. If the East African Community is to become an sub-Saharan African regional powerhouse, it must develop the infrastructure that offers a seamless delivery system.

Since the mid-1980s, cross-border freight trucks have been the most important transport mode for goods moving between the East Africa hinterland and Mombasa. Until the completion of the standard gauge railway, the situation is not going to change soon. Consequently, there must be constant efforts to maintain and improve the associated road network.

Experts agree port development and world trade are closely interrelated. It is expensive, but the returns come with more business, because of increased throughput numbers and lower costs for users.

The Port Reitz/Moi International Airport Access Road project sends a clear message to both local and foreign investors, that Kenya is very much open to business and willing to improve the business environment to make it as conducive as possible.

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