FACELIFTS of some major roads in the region are far from over after the African Development Bank (AfDB) announced that it had earmarked $322million for the construction of the Malindi-Mombasa-Tanga- Bagamoyo highway.
The construction of the key stretch which connects Tanzania and Kenya's coastal cities is set to begin in the first quarter of 2019.
Speaking here at the weekend, AfDB's Director General for the Eastern Africa Regional Hub, Mr Gabriel Negatu, said the construction of East Africa's Coastline multinational Bagamoyo- Mombasa highway is now set to start after the study for the proposal was completed.
"We have already allocated the funds for the construction of the key road and if all goes according to plan, we will begin groundwork early next year," said the AfDB Regional Director at the commissioning of the Namanga One Stop Border Post (OSBP).
The transnational 450 kilometer- long highway, is expected to pass by Malindi -Mombasa and Lunga Lunga and cross the Kenyan border and pass through Tanzania's (Tanga) - Pangani and Saadani to Bagamoyo.
The move is touted to be a major milestone in terms of trade and above all raise the standards of the transport and energy sectors in both countries.
The road starts at Malindi, Kenya and makes its way southwards for 110 kilometres to Mombasa, with this portion of the road designated officially as part of Route B8, a national trunk road.
It then continues southwards for 106 kilometres through the town of Lunga Lunga and onward to the nearby border with Tanzania, with this portion of the road designated officially as the entirety of route A14, an international trunk road.
The total distance within Kenya is approximately 216 kilometres. From the border, the road will continue to Tanga, then on through Pangani before bypassing the Saadani National Park and ending at Bagamoyo.
"The highway is expected to improve cross-border trade, tourism, socio-economic development and promote regional integration," said Mr Negatu.
According to AfDB's Director General for Eastern Africa Regional Hub, the Bank's board had approved US$322 million to Burundi and Tanzania to finance the Rumonge-Gitaz and Kabingo-Kasulu-Manyovu Road upgrading project.
Mr Negatu further said that the funds would also go towards the construction of the One Stop Border Post at Manyovu-Mugina on the Tanzania and Burundi border.
Mr Negatu said the bank would also finance the construction of the Malindi-Mombasa- Lunga Lunga/Horohoro-Tanga- Bagamoyo highway that straddles the coastlines of Kenya and Tanzania.
The AfDB official said that the bank was highly encouraged by the benefits of some of the infrastructure projects it had undertaken, citing the Athi River- Namanga-Arusha Road, which had reduced from one day to four hours, the journey from Nairobi to Arusha.
"This approach entails mainstreaming 'soft' components, such as trade facilitation measures in physical infrastructure projects to enhance their efficiency and developmental outcomes," he said.
In his remarks, the Secretary General for the East African Community (EAC) , Ambassador Liberat Mfumukeko, said that the Namanga OSBP was born out of an agreement between Tanzania and Kenya to upgrade the facilities at the border post in order to facilitate free trade through the efficient movement of goods and people across the border.
"The construction of the Namanga OSBP was part of the completed works for the Arusha- Namanga-Athi River Road. The project on both sides was virtually completed at the end of 2016 with piloting phase taking about one year," he added.