East African Community (EAC) Secretary General, Dr Richard Sezibera, has said that he has been impressed by the progress of road works linking Arusha and Rwanda via Rusumo border.
Dr Sezibera who recently undertook an on-spot assessment of the status of the roads along the EAC Central Corridor Road Network Project said he was pleased with efforts by the Tanzanian government in upgrading to tarmac level almost the entire central parts of the country.
Dr Sezibera made a surprise tour along the road covering almost 1,200 kilometres from Arusha to Rusumo border post via Babati, Singida, Nzega, Isaka and Nyakanazi, after which he commended Tanzania for rehabilitating as well as maintaining the roads on the Central Corridor.
“I am amazed that we travelled on well-maintained tarmac roads all the way from Arusha to Rusumo border connecting Tanzania and Rwanda, apart from small stretches that are being worked on,” he noted.
On the way to Rusumo, he met Tanzania Revenue Authority officials at the Isaka TRA checkpoint, one of the three checkpoints on the Corridor, who briefed him that on average they receive 100 container trucks, about 40 fuel tankers and 35 saloon cars per day and they take between 5 to 10 minutes to clear the vehicles.
At the Rusumo border post, the Secretary General was informed that Tanzania and Rwanda had signed a Memorandum of Understanding for 15-hour operations that was being implemented by both sides. Over 100 trucks and cars are cleared by both sides on a normal working day and it takes a minimum of 5-10 minutes to clear the vehicles provided documentations are in good order.
The Secretary General toured the proposed site of the Rusumo One Stop Border Post where construction work has started on the Rwandan side of the border. The EAC is adopting the use of OSBPs as a trade facilitation concept to minimize delays at cross border points on major transport corridors in the region, often as a result of poor facilities, manual processes, lengthy and un-integrated procedures and poor traffic flow.
It entails combining two stops into one and consolidating functions in a single public facility for exiting one country and entering another. The effect is reduced travel time for passengers and cargo vehicles. Dr Sezibera urged the business community at the two borders to take advantage of the good road network to expand their businesses in the region.
He reiterated that the EAC recognizes that regional infrastructure interventions are key to attracting investment into the region, improving competitiveness and promoting trade.
The EAC has identified five main corridors within the Community measuring a total of 12,000 kilometres which are a strategic priority and require rehabilitation and upgrading to complete the Road Network in the Community.
Apart from Dar es Salaam-Dodoma-Isaka-Mutukula-Masaka route, other Corridors are Mombasa – Malaba-Katuna Corridor, Biharamulo-Mwanza-Musoma-Sirari-Lodwar-Lokichiogio Corridor, Nyakanazi-Kasulu-Sumbawanga-Tunduma Corridor, and the Tunduma-Iringa-Dodoma-Arusha-Namanga-Moyale Corridor.
The East African region operates five modes of transport systems consisting of road, rail, maritime, air transport and oil pipeline. The infrastructure and support services sub-sector covers roads, railways, civil aviation, maritime transport and ports, multi-modal transport, freight administration and management.
A number of Tripartite Agreements have been reached in the field of infrastructure including road transport and inland waterway transport aimed at providing a facilitative instrument to regulate inland waterways transport, particularly across Lake Victoria.
The transport system in Tanzania and Kenya, in addition to supporting national economic development, acts as a vital transit network for neighbouring landlocked countries in he Lake Victoria Basin region of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi Ethiopia, southern Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The partner states have implemented sector reforms aimed at efficient provision of services with the ultimate goal of substantially reducing the current high costs of transport in the region. These reforms include the formation of regulatory authorities and operational agencies and privatization of operations.
The East African Road Network Project (EARNP) project objective is to improve the efficiency of regional road corridors by rehabilitating failed sections and upgrading gravel roads to bitumen standard. There are about 94 road links over five transit corridors that are under various stages of development.
By MARC NKWAME, Tanzania Daily News