African Union Infrastructure ambassador Mr. Raila Odinga has called on the Northern Corridor states- Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan- to fast track the development of rail and waterways as a means of transporting goods from the Port of Mombasa to free up the roads.
He also called on the nations to prioritize the completion of road sections that will see seamless connectivity across the region to ease trade and movement of people.
While addressing the 31st meeting of the Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Coordination Authority, Mr. Odinga said that while the coming of the Standard Gauge Railway Phase One from Mombasa to Nairobi has moved some 5 million tonnes of freight and 3 million passengers off the roads, the bulk of imports and exports destined to and from countries in the Corridor are still transported by road.
Mr. Odinga said Kenya is prioritizing the Construction of SGR Phase 2A-a 120 kilometre stretch from Nairobi through Mai Mahiu to Naivasha-whose successful completion date is set for 30th September 2019.
But he worried that it would be a line to nowhere if other Northern Corridor states don’t complete their sections.
“It would appear that national priorities are still taking precedence over regional and continental dreams. Member States have not prioritized improving the quality of transport networks in order to improve the regional trade, investments and trade and spur economic development along the region,” Mr. Odinga said.
He appealed to the Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Coordination Authority to move with speed and fast track the improvement of existing meter gauge lines and the development of the Standard Gauge Railway for all Northern Corridor Member States.
Mr. Odinga said Kenya has prioritized the renovation of the Kisumu Port whose successful renovation and opening of Kisumu port will be a big boost to the Northern Corridor.
He called for similar developments on lakes Albert, Edward, Kivu, and Tanganyika, and the Kagera and Nile rivers.