The delegates from Kenya and Uganda have struck an agreement to mount more scanners and open auxiliary roads at the border to eliminate traffic jams along the Malaba-Bungoma highway.

According to cabinet Secretary Roads, Transport and Public Works Mr Kipchumba Murkomen there will be temporary measures the two neighbours will be undertaking in their move to decongest Malaba ahead of the SGR extension to the border.

“The decision to mount more scanners and open auxiliary roads at East Africa’s second busiest exit and entry points, is among key resolutions arrived at a meeting attended by Roads and Transport cabinet ministers in the EAC region in Kampala last week,” said Mr Murkomen

He noted, “We have identified challenges that are related to scanning processes within the border and we have suggested increasing the equipment that will be used for making sure scanning is faster with backup machines on both sides of the border.”

The CS made the remarks while on a tour in Malaba on Saturday when he hosted Uganda’s state minister for Works and Transport Musa Ecweru.

 The former Algeyo Marakwet senator noted that the congestion has been a thorny issue at the Malaba border with snarl-ups by cargo trucks, sometimes, stretching for over 70 kilometres.

“When the scanner breaks down, trucks line up along the single lane Malaba-Bungoma highway – sealing half of the road and making movement almost impossible on the highway linking the Port of Mombasa and Malaba,” said Mr Murkomen

“Besides bringing more scanners, we have also agreed on the construction of auxiliary routes to make sure that the congestion we witness here does not negatively affect the movement of goods and persons from one country to the other.

“We will construct secondary roads not only on the Kenyan side but also Ugandan side of the border. We will set aside funds in the 2023/2024 Financial Year towards this investment.”

One of the worst border congestions was witnessed in late 2021 and early 2022 when a traffic jam by cargo trucks stretched for over 70 kilometres, a development that compelled the two neighbours to suspend cargo scanning in Malaba.

With an auxiliary road built, Murkomen said cargo trucks, from either Kimait or Koteko will be diverted to a lane that will connect to Malaba.

CS announced that the government will be upgrading the road that connects Kenya and Uganda at the Lwakhakhwa border to accommodate heavy trucks.

“We are going to work out mechanisms of investing in infrastructure along the Lwakhakha route because the roads in Lwakhakha on both sides of the countries are not good enough to accommodate heavy trucks,” the CS said.

SGR extension

Murkomen said engagements between Kenya and Uganda and other EAC member countries are at an advanced stage to extend the SGR from Naivasha to Malaba and then to Kampala and beyond.

“Our objective is to make sure that the SGR in the fullness of time is taken all the way to DR Congo so that it can make this region a transport hub so that we can foster faster movement of goods and people and deepen on integration as a region,” Murkomen said.

“About the railway line, we have had a slow movement of goods in and out of Kenya and Uganda because of poor transfer of goods from the Kenyan railway to the Ugandan railway and vice versa,”

Ugandan Roads and transportation minister Mr Ecweru Musa Francis said that they will remain committed to ensuring the movement of both goods and people is enhanced for better delivery and efficiency.

According to Ecweru, Malaba is a key border crossing point and the improvement of infrastructure will ensure improved business for the entire EAC region.

“I can assure the people of Malaba both in Uganda and Kenya that at our level of government are determined to transform this place and we are determined to make sure that the products of your sweat will benefit the region,” Ecweru said.

“Within the next few weeks, this congestion that you witness here will be solved and the spirit of business that exists in Malaba, will not be suffocated by any development that we are going to initiate.”

Teso North MP Oku Kaunya welcomed the decision by Murkomen to open auxiliary routes connecting to the border.

“To reduce the danger that is exposed to motorists and the local community, it will be good to dual the route from Kimait or Koteko to Malaba and also to provide some side lanes for cargo trucks or other by-passers,” said Mr Kaunya.

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