By Luke Anami
East African Community Heads of State are set to unveil a multi-billion shilling headquarters in Arusha on Wednesday and a new road from Arusha to Nairobi.
The three-wing complex, which took more than four years to put up, was constructed at the cost of Sh1.4 billion (14 million Euros) – a grant from Germany.
EAC Minister Musa Sirma said the five EAC Heads of State would meet in Arusha today to officially open the new offices.
“EAC Heads of State will officially open the new EAC headquarters on Wednesday morning and thereafter open the new Arusha-Namanga-Athi River Jumuia road later in the day,” Sirma said.
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“The complex adjacent to the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC) where the regional body was temporarily, will house the three arms of the EAC – the Secretariat, East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), and East African Court of Justice.”
Previously, the EAC offices were housed in various rented places in Arusha.
Tanzania retained the EAC headquarters despite opposition from a section of EAC partner States that feel the HQs should have been put up elsewhere, given the slow pace at which Tanzania implements EAC decisions.
The project was officially launched in November 2009, when the five EAC Heads of State laid the foundation stone.
The official hand-over of the Construction Certificate of Practical Completion of the new EAC Headquarters by the Project Manager of the GBC Consortium, Jens Malte Neuhaus to the EAC Secretariat, took place two weeks ago.
While receiving the certificate, EAC Deputy Secretary in charge of Finance and Administration, Jean Claude Nsengiyumva hailed the German Government, which through the KFW, made financial contributions to the project.
“This hand-over is historicas it concludes the construction and gives us the opportunity to own and occupy this new building,” Nsengiyumva said.
The headquarters at the junction of Afrika ya Mashariki Road and the EAC Close, is regarded as one of the best examples of infrastructure upgrading in the Community.
The five EAC presidents will also officially open the 243km Arusha-Namanga-Athi River road, whose construction and rehabilitation has been completed.
The road has been built under the East African Road Project at a cost of Sh13.9 billion. It was funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB), Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), and the Kenyan and Tanzanian governments.
AfDB provided $93 million (Sh8 billion) for part of the road in Kenya, while Jica provided $63 million (Sh5.4 billion) for the Tanzanian side. The Kenyan and Tanzanian governments met the remaining cost.
The Arusha-Namanga-Athi River road, which is crucial for trade within the East African countries, is part of the wider EA Road Network corridor that runs from Tundama in Tanzania to Moyale on the Kenyan-Ethiopia border.