Solve gridlock at Mombasa port or lose out, Kenya told

Deputy President William Ruto and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon when they met during the ongoing conference on African Development
By Vitalis Kimutai in Japan.

NAIROBI, KENYA: Kenya stands to lose billions of shillings due to congestion in Mombasa Port with East African countries using the facility reportedly seeking alternative routes to export and import goods.

The World Bank has warned that if the government does not immediately seek to solve the crisis which has persisted over the years resulting in delay in clearance of goods on transit, then Kenyans may soon be the only ones using the port.

Makhtar Diop, the World Bank Vice President for Africa revealed during a meeting with Deputy President William Ruto at Intercontinental hotel in Yokohama, Japan on the sidelines of the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) that the neighboring countries were lobbying for construction of alternative port to transport goods due to frustrations businessmen were subjected to in Mombasa.

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Diop said it was incumbent upon the Kenya government to move with speed and seek lasting solutions to the problem noting that the port was key to trade in the East African region.

“World Bank is willing to assist the Kenya government to overcome the challenges currently prevailing in the Mombasa Port so that goods can be transported faster in the region,” Diop said.

Countries that are using the Mombasa Port include –Uganda, Tanzania, Southern Sudan, Sudan among others.

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The Bank will also conduct a feasibility study on the Mombasa-Nairobi railway which the government is keen on upgrading with President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy (Ruto) having highlighted the matter as a major agenda in the Jubilee manifesto ahead of the March 4,2013 general election.

Financing of the electricity sector with special focus on geothermal expansion is an area that the bank is also seeking to assist the government to address both in the short and long term.

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Diop said that Rift Valley region had a huge potential for investments in the geothermal sector and the government should explore opportunities to invest in the sector.

Ruto and Diop also discussed issues relating to access to health care by the people especially in the rural areas and fast tracking general infrastructural development.

Ruto told the World Bank delegation that the government was committed to sorting out the gridlock in Mombasa Port once and for all so that trade between Kenya and other countries in the region and the world could be enhanced.

“Other than resolving the problem at the Mombasa Port, Kenya is keen on building a modern railway so as to ease problems of transporting goods to neighbouring countries,” Ruto said.

Ruto said that a container terminal would be constructed in Nairobi besides the construction of modern railway so as to make Mombasa Port viable and ensure business growth is realized.

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Cabinet secretaries Aden Mohamed, (Industrialization) Davis Chirchir (Energy and Petroleum) accompanied the Deputy President in the meeting.

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World Bank Maktar Diop William Ruto