Inland Trucking From Mombasa to Uganda
Currently some 99% of all Uganda's imports by sea come in via the Port of Mombasa. Out of all these import shipments, around 95% move from Mombasa to Uganda by truck. 75% of Rwanda's imports come in via Mombasa.
And basically all the cargo for Southern Sudan and the part of D.R. Congo which borders Uganda also arrive via Mombasa.
Every day, there are therefore hundreds of trucks leaving the Port of Mombasa with these transit shipments. All of these trucks are facing various obstacles and delays enroute to their final destination. Such delays take time and they obviously cost money. Or, rather, if at least most of these so-called Non-Tariff Barriers could be removed, then goods would move faster and costs would go down. Thereby the end the consumer would pay less when he buys the goods in the shops.
The current situation and delays are costing our economy tens-of-millions of U.S. Dollars. Money, which we obviously cannot afford to waste. This is why these NTBs are so important and why it is absolutely critical to keep the NTBs at an absolute minimum.
Today all trucks from Mombasa to Uganda and to other transit countries have to move right through the city centre of Nairobi. Anybody who has visited Nairobi during the recent years will know how bad the traffic is in the centre of Nairobi. Particularly during the morning, midday and evening rush hours, when it can take hours to get from one place to the other. But even outside the rush hours the traffic at places flows extremely slowly.
A major problem is the big roundabouts in the centre of Nairobi. As any traffic expert will tell you, roundabouts are very fine as long as the traffic is light. However, with too many cars and trucks at the same time, the jam and delays quickly build up in these roundabouts, with everyone pushing to get on, which, again, only makes the whole situation worse.
We have seen the same thing also here in Kampala. Just look at the improvements at places like Clock Tower, Jinja Road and Wandegeya, where a few years ago the roundabouts were replaced by proper traffic lights. Today it can still be bad; but imagine how bad it would have been if everyone still had to fight their way through those bottlenecks. So hopefully the busy roundabouts, which remain in Kampala, will soon be changed and improved in order to cope with the current heavy traffic flows.
12 km Nairobi Highway
Fortunately there are a number of major infrastructure improvements under way at Nairobi. The new Thika Highway is almost finished and it already provides tremendous benefits to the road users. Nairobi is also in the process of constructing a couple of by-passes on the edges of city. When ready, these new by-passes will provide major benefits. Similar to the improvements which Kampala has enjoyed and experienced since the Northern Bypass was opened not so long ago.
Another very important project in Nairobi will be the new Nairobi Highway, which will be an elevated highway to run above the existing Mombasa Road - Uhuru Highway and Waiyaki Way. This will basically be one long flyover; starting from the Likoni Road junction at Ole Sereni Hotel (close to Nairobi Airport) all the way to James Gichuru junction off Waiyaki Road.
Today more than 100,000 vehicles use this stretch of road every day, so this project is critical for the many users. There is even a plan for establishing 2 dedicated fast-lanes for buses!
The project will be financed by the World Bank and may end up costing US$ 2-300 million.
This is still at the preliminary stage. COWI Consulting Engineers and Planners are finalizing all the plans and designs. This is obviously a huge project running through the very centre of Nairobi. Roads still have to be connected, the traffic must flow and additional overpasses and junctions will be required. And all the pipes, drainages, cables and whatever running along and across the existing road will have to be moved and new ones installed.
The construction work itself may start next January. First all the plans, however, must be finalized and approved. And the World Bank must approve all the details and especially the cost budgets.
Obviously this new highway will affect a lot of users. A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a Public Hearing at Nairobi. The preliminary plans, numbers and drawings were presented. As expected, many issues were raised by the public. The overall main concern was from the people living in and working at the many properties along this 12 km stretch of road. The public was mainly seeking assurances that they would maintain the access to these buildings and properties; which was confirmed by the concerned authorities.
Benefits to Uganda
Once this new highway in Nairobi has been completed; earliest by 2015, perhaps later, then the trucks coming from Mombasa to Uganda will be able to drive straight through the centre of Nairobi, on this new elevated overpass, without having to stop at a single traffic light or without having to negotiate any roundabouts.
At that time trucks can literally just drive straight through Nairobi. This 12 km stretch, which today for a truck can take a few hours or even longer, will be reduced to merely a few minutes. Accordingly this will certainly reduce the transit time for cargo from Mombasa to Uganda; which, again, should reduce the transportation cost.
East African Business Week
25 June 2012