EAC roads over used while rail option lags

KAMPALA, UGANDA – East African Community Secretary General, Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera, renewed concerns about the strain regional roads have to bear.
Speaking to a cross section of importers and exporters in Nairobi recently, he said more cargo has to be shifted to the rail system.
“Currently, less than 5% of cargo in East Africa is moved by rail. No economy has grown without rail transport,” he said.
The Secretary General reminded his audience that cargo volume in the region is going to triple in the next 15 years. Unless more transit goods are shifted to the railways the problem of road maintenance will become more pronounced.
“Shifting a significant amount of cargo to railways will guarantee longer life spans for our newly-constructed and rehabilitated roads and also improve the environment by reducing carbon emissions,” he said.
Last month Rift Valley Railways, who hod the concession to run the Kenya and Uganda rail netwok announced a $300 million strategic plan to increase its cargo capacity five times over by 2018.
Referring  to non-tariffs barriers (NTBs) Dr. Sezibera  told the the Eastern Africa Shippers Community formerly known as Kenya Shippers Council.
He said the region still had various bottlenecks that businesses continue to face in the form of NTBs at the ports and borders.
Recent statistics show that it is still costly to transport goods within East Africa compared to other regions  economic regions around the world.
It costs about $ 4,000 to ship a 40-ft container from Hong Kong to Mombasa. However to transport the same container to Bujumbura from Mombasa costs about $10,000.
He said studies have revealed that truck transport from Mombasa to Kampala, a distance which can be covered in five days, 19 hours are spent in paperwork crossing borders and at weighbridges.
A conservative estimate is that a one-hour reduction in such crossing time at each point would bring $ 7 million  per year in benefits to the EAC region.
The Secretary General highlighted the importance to the Shippers Community of the  EAC One Stop Border Post (OSBP) Bill, 2012.
The Bill was passed by the East African Legislative Assembly during a sitting in Kigali, Rwanda recently.
Once assented to by the EAC Heads of State, the law is expected to speed up processing at major regional border posts.
This in turn will help support the ultimate goal of having an efficient movement of goods and people within the Community.
Amb. Sezibera affirmed that the OSBP concept is a testament that the EAC Partner States were determined to improve the business environment and are committed to progressively address those bottlenecks that are leading to high costs of transport and logistics in the region.
Kenya Shippers Council is a business member’s organization that has been in existence for the last five years championing the interest of importers and exporters in Kenya and the rest of East Africa by extension.
As a result of expanded scope and  activities, it has been  transformed into Shippers Council of Eastern Africa.
The establishment of SCEA is  formed by demand from shippers and logistics providers to harness and consolidate efforts of finding solutions to numerous capacity challenges and inefficiencies in logistics especially in the port of entry and exist in the Northern and Central corridor.

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