KENYA RACES TO ESTABLISH DIRECT ROAD LINK WITH SOUTH SUDAN
(Posted 23rd July 2013)
Kenya has agreed on a financing arrangement with the World Bank to create a direct road link with South Sudan’s capital Juba, which would allow goods transported by road to use a more direct route to and from the port of Mombasa than the present link via Kampala.
The 600 kilometre road from Eldoret in Western Kenya to the border post of Nadapal in South Sudan will link up with a section of nearly 350 kilometres from Juba to Nadapal, which according to information from sources in both countries is already in progress. The main section in need to upgrade is from Kenya’s northern town of Lodwar to the border in fact, as the Eldoret to Lodwar road is already an all weather road.
The new road link, when complete, is thought to reduce the cost of transport but also the hassle of having to send cargo through Uganda, which presently requires two added border crossings with all the inherent challenges, and problems, to limit the shipment of goods to one entry and one exit inspection only, both ways.
The road project has reportedly been demanded by manufacturers from Kenya exporting their goods to South Sudan, to increase their market share at the expense of Uganda, which has in the past years reached a dominant position for exports to South Sudan as a result of shorter access routes.
When the new road link is ready, it will strengthen the existing cooperation between South Sudan and Kenya even further, as the LAPSSET project, which will connect the new deep sea harbour of Lamu by road, rail and pipeline to South Sudan – and Ethiopia for that matter – is already seen as a milestone infrastructure project of a symbiotic nature between the two countries.
The main road from Kampala via Gulu to Nimule, the border town in South Sudan, has for long been dogged by problems during the rainy season and while much of the new highway from Juba to the Ugandan border is ready, the delays on the Ugandan side have been responsible for regular delays between the two capitals. The once almost imminent start of a railway link between Gulu and Juba has also not progressed much further, leaving Kenya once again ahead in the race to create facts on the ground through infrastructure developments, which will ultimately aid their trade links with South Sudan over their regional competition.
South Sudan has applied to join the East African Community and is currently undergoing assessment on their state of readiness vis a vis harmonization of laws, regulations and institutional alignments and Kenya, needless to say, is one of South Sudan’s main backers for their admission to the regional grouping.