, ARUSHA, Apr 29 – Presidents Mwai Kibaki and Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete on Tuesday inaugurated the Arusha- Namanga-Athi River road construction work.
The project costing $156 million is being funded through concessionary loans from the African development bank and the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JICA) and Governments of Kenya and Tanzania.
The occasion was also witnessed by Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi.
Speaking during the officiating ceremony at Lengijave, Arusha, President Kibaki said the launch of the road marks an important milestone in efforts to improve the physical connectivity of East African Community (EAC) partner states.
President Kibaki noted that once completed, the modernization works on the road will have a positive impact on trade, tourism, agriculture and industrial promotion.
“We look forward not only to the expeditious completion of the works we are launching today but also to the rapid implementation of other regional infrastructure projects,” said President Kibaki.
He therefore underscored the need for the East African Community (EAC) partner states to upgrade and modernise sections of the existing roads and railways network as well as extend the network to other sections within the region.
President Kibaki said: “Indeed, I am encouraged to note that in tandem with the modernisation of the Arusha-Namanga-Athi River road, the African Development Bank is already supporting feasibility studies and detailed design for the Arusha – Moshi – Holili – Taveta – Mwatate – Voi road and the Mombasa – Lunga Lunga – Horohoro – ¬Tanga roads.”
Pointing out that poor road and rail infrastructure as well as delays at ports and border points have continued to constrain the movement of people and goods across national boundaries.
President Kibaki said that the state of infrastructure has a direct contribution to the cost of doing business and competitiveness of firms regionally and internationally. He added that the EAC Partner states have undertaken several joint projects to address the poor state of infrastructure in air, road and rail transport as well as port and telecommunications.
Noting that access to financial resources remains one of the greatest challenges in developing the requisite infrastructure in the region, President Kibaki said: “This challenge is particularly acute at this time when development aid resources have come under severe strain on account of the current global economic crisis”.
He therefore said it was imperative that the EAC Governments explore other means of raising financial resources for infrastructure development saying there is need to develop and implement a clear framework of facilitating private sector participation in infrastructure development either on its own or in partnership with governments.
The Head of state thanked development partners especially, JICA, the African Development Bank and the Chinese contractors for their various roles in undertaking this project.
Other Speakers were the host President Jakaya Kikwete and the current East African Community (EAC) Summit Chairman President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, EAC Secretary General Juma Mwapachu, President of African Development Bank Group (ADB) Dr. Donald Kaberuka and Ambassador of Japan to Tanzania representing the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) H.E Hiroshi Najkagawa.
In his address President Jakaya Kikwete called for review of the EAC roadwork rehabilitation programme with a view to including Burundi and Rwanda.
President Kibaki is accompanied by the Minister for East African Community Amason Kingi, Minister for Roads Franklin Bett, Assistant Minister Wilfred Machange, Permanent Secretaries Thuita Mwangi, David Nalo, Dr (Eng). Cyrus Njiru, Eng. Abdulrazaq Aden Ali and Dr Edward Sambili.