, ARUSHA, Tanzania, Mar 3 – East African Community regional leaders Thursday expressed their commitment to a borderless common market where people and goods move without restriction.
Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Tanzania’s John Magufuli said with a population of 160 million, the EAC common market will benefit the citizens when they rise above colonial administrative boundaries to trade together.
The leaders spoke during the official launch of the upgrading of the 234 km Arusha-Holili-Taveta road project. The leaders also launched construction of the Arusha-Tengeru dual carriageway and Arusha Bypass Road which are part of the Multinational Road. The Kenyan section of the project, the 98.4 km Taveta-Mwatate-Voi road, whose construction commenced in May 2014 was launched in September 2015 by President Kenyatta and Jakaya Kikwete, the then President of Tanzania at Taveta.
The road link, which is key to regional integration, connects the Central Corridor covering Tanzania to the Northern Corridor at Voi.
President Kenyatta said the importance of road infrastructure is that it has the potential of transforming lives of citizens.
“For the people of Kenya and Tanzania, this road should and will be a road to greater prosperity, opportunity and unity,” President Kenyatta said.
The regional leaders pointed out that the joint infrastructure projects are being undertaken on the belief that they will foster rapid economic growth and boost the region’s competitiveness at the global level.
Presidents Kenyatta, Museveni and host Magufuli appreciated the vital role infrastructure plays in the pursuit for deeper integration.
President Kenyatta said the multinational road will provide an important link between Tanzania and Kenya by facilitating the exchange of goods and services to enhance economic growth of both countries and further entrench integration.
“The road will bring down the cost of doing business in East Africa and boost cross-border trade. Producers in both countries, including farmers who are a key constituent of our respective economies, will be connected to bigger markets,” the Kenyan leader said.
President Magufuli, who is chair of EAC, urged regional leaders to work together to address poverty, youth unemployment and underdevelopment by removing barriers that slow down integration.
“l want to assure you that Tanzania is open and ready to walk with other EAC members in strengthening the ties that bind us and today’s launch is a show of commitment to that partnership,” the Tanzanian leader said.
President Magufuli said South Sudan was admitted to EAC Wednesday because President Salva Kirr and his former Vice President Riek Machar have shown commitment and willingness to work together for peace and stability in their country.