Kenya and Uganda will set up more border posts to facilitate faster movement of people and goods.
Speaking at a joint press briefing after holding bilateral talks with his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni in Mombasa on Wednesday. President Uhuru Kenyatta said increasing border posts would boost trade between the two East African countries.
“We have agreed to open more border posts along the common border to facilitate movement of people and goods,” he said.
To this end, Uhuru and Museveni agreed to remove trade barriers.
“There is no other way our economies will grow if we won’t solve the hurdles on the movement of cargo and people,” said Museveni.
Uhuru sought Museveni's commitment that the two countries would implement joint infrastructure projects.
"We want Uganda to join us in joint development infrastructure projects to ensure the line (Standard Gauge Railway) moves to Kampala as initially envisioned," said Uhuru.
However, the Ugandan leader was cagey on construction of the standard Gauge Railway.
Uganda is refurbishing the old railway line between Kampala and Malaba as “an alternative” to lower transport costs for traders.
Museveni said talks on joint infrastructure projects and trade barriers were “at initial stages" but reaffirmed that Uganda was for “a cheaper, faster and safer" transport system.
"We have had fruitful and profitable deliberations. We have covered a lot of ground," he said.
“I’m told that once the SGR reaches Malaba, it will take 24 hours to travel from Mombasa to Kampala. SGR reinforces Kenya’s commitment to facilitate transportation of Ugandan cargo,” he added.
The two leaders also discussed ways to improve efficiency at the port of Mombasa to facilitate faster movement of Ugandan cargo.
Museveni hailed Uhuru’s effort to streamline operations at the port, saying time taken to clear and transport cargo from the port to Uganda had dropped drastically.
“In the past people at the port thought handling Ugandan cargo was a favour they were doing for us. They were sabotaging both the Kenyan and Ugandan economies,” he said.
He said efficiency at the port of Mombasa was good for business and economies of both countries in the hinterland.
On the disputed Migingo island, Uhuru said a new joint border commission (JBC) would be formed to help settle the dispute.
Kenya and Uganda established the first JBC in 2016. Yesterday, Uhuru said the new JBC would look at the entire border between Kenya and Uganda.
The Migingo dispute started in the Mwai Kibaki reign, and in 2016 the two countries set aside Sh140 million for surveyors to determine location of the densely populated rocky island.
Yesterday, Uhuru said the new JBC would not only resolve the border dispute but also come up with mechanisms on how the two nations could jointly exploit the resources in Lake Victoria.
“The delegation has worked very hard to ensure renewed cooperation. They have briefed us on the progress. We want to facilitate trade, movement of goods and people,” said Uhuru.
Uhuru and Museveni were briefed on the progress of the inter-ministerial meeting.
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