NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 19- In its continued effort to open up North Eastern region and link it to the rest of the country, the government has sourced funding from a number of development partners to construct a 146-kilometer road from Garissa to Mandera.
The ‘Nuno-Modogashe’ road is expected to cost Sh8billion ($100million) and the government has already received commitments totaling Sh5.36 billion ($67 million) from the Kuwait Fund, OPEC Fund and the Saudi Fund and Abu Dhabi Fund that have contributed Sh1.6 billion, Sh960million, Sh2 billion and Sh800 million respectively to fund the project.
The government will contribute Sh1.84 billion towards the construction, said Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta while signing an Sh800 million loan agreement with the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), one of the co-financiers of the road.
“The government intends to extend this road to Mandera town which is at the border of Kenya and Ethiopia making it an international highway that will enhance trade between the two countries,” the minister added.
The extension to Mandera will be done in the second phase of the project which he said is scheduled to be completed in the next five to six years.
Phase one, however, has already kicked off with the development of the first 10km of the road network which is not only expected to improve the quality of lives of the pastoralist community in the area but also the growth of the livestock sector.
“This road will no doubt ensure that Kenyans living in this region will access basic services like markets and health care facilities and it will also attract investments in the region thus creating employment,” Mr Kenyatta added.
BADEA Director General Abdaleziz Khelef also reckoned that the Kenyan economy in general would benefit as the road would facilitate the transportation of goods and people at reduced costs.
The Sh800 million credit will be repaid in 30 years at the annual interest rate of one percent and has a 10-year grace period. Mr Khelef said the agreement was part of the continuation of the relationship that BADEA has had with Kenya for nearly four decades.
“No doubt, this occasion is a manifestation of the brotherly relations that bind not only Kenya to BADEA but also the Arab world and Africa as a whole; it is a good model of South—South cooperation,” the DG added.
Since 1975, the organisation has extended Sh9.2 billion ($114.26 million) in development assistance to Kenya which has been injected in infrastructure development, hospitals and irrigation schemes rehabilitation.
Also present during the signing ceremony was Roads Minister Franklin Bett who said the building of the ‘Nuno-Modogashe’ link was an indication that the government was committed to infrastructure development in all parts of the country.
In the last two months, he said, the Roads Ministry has been put on the spot in Parliament by legislators who were accusing it of discriminating against some parts of the country.
“This should go to confirm that this government is committed to providing tarmacked roads everywhere,” Mr Bett said adding that security in the area would also improve.