The Governments of Kenya and Uganda have outlined elaborate plans to ease the perennial congestion at the busy Malaba border post.
The development comes after Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen and his Uganda counterpart Musa Echweru led a joint government delegation in the inspection of the Malaba Freight Yard at the Kenya Railways transit godown and customs facilities at the border town of Malaba.
“We held a joint meeting with the government agencies at Malaba border to have fast hand experience of the problems and explore possible solutions to resolve the congestion of trucks along the border point,” Murkomen said.
“Instead of holding conferences and making telephone calls from our offices in Kampala and Nairobi, we decide the come here to learn firsthand what the challenges are that are causing congestion. We at the level of government are determined to provide the solution to these problems. The two countries are committed to engaging all the stakeholders in providing solutions that will promote trade at the borders,” said Uganda’s State Minister of works and transport, Musa Echweru.
Speaking during an inspection tour of the Kenya Railways Inland container depot, CS Murkomen said that the Government is keen on ensuring collegiality between Kenya and Uganda to enhance regional connectivity, enhance efficiency at the border, and boost self-sustainability.
“We noted that inadequate holding areas, lack of backup scanners, poor documentation for clearance purposes and unsupported road network on both Kenyan and Uganda sides as major challenges. Lack of auxiliary roads at the border are also contributing to the occasional pile-up,” CS Murkomen said.
Their meeting follows the recent strike by traders at the border over diversion of empty trucks via Lwakhakha Border, Malaba due to the poor state of the roads.
The Uganda government recently ordered empty trucks to exit the country via Lwakaka, but truck drivers say the poor road conditions on both sides and the additional distance was impacting on the cost of the cross border trade. “We plan to invest in more infrastructure at that Lwakaka,” Murkomen said.
Murkomen directed the Kenya National Highway (KeNHA) to improve on the 21Km road connecting the Lwakhakha border point to the Eldoret- Malaba highway where clearance of empty trucks can be fast-tracked to ease the congestion at the border.
The ministers agreed to increase on the number of scanners along the route, quicken standard gauge railway construction and expand the road network as a way to decongest the border point.
To further ease congestion at the border, the two ministers committed to looking into bureaucracies that impede the movement of cargo via the Metre Gauge Railway linking the Port of Mombasa with Kampala and other States along the corridor.
Present were multi-agency team of officials from both countries led by the PS Mohamed Daghar of Kenya and PS Bageya Waiswa.
Also present were Mr. Mohamed Daghar, PS, and State Department for Transport, Kenya Railways MD Philip J. Mainga and KR senior management.
“Kenya Railways Corporation remains steadfast in its commitment to delivering excellent services and playing a pivotal role in transforming transportation across East Africa,” Mainga said.
In February this year, the East African Community announced it had secured $1.4 million from the East African Development Bank to finance a feasibility study on 256km of roads at the border crossing (from Kisumu to Busia and Malaba Butema).