President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Tanzanian counterpart Jakaya Kikwete yesterday officially launched the multi-national Arusha Holili-Taveta-Mwatate road project, a crucial transport corridor in East Africa that links the Northern corridor.
The road will link Kenya to Tanzania and reduce the distance from Mombasa port to Bujumbura, Burundi, by 400km.
The move will increase Burundi and Rwanda imports through the Mombasa port and cut transport costs due to the reduced distance.
It will be cheaper for northern Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo to import and export goods through Mombasa using this road compared to Dar es Salaam port.
President Jakaya Kikwete told residents gathered at Soweni Primary School that the multi-national Arusha-Holili-Taveta-Mwatate road project is a game-changer for people in both Taita-Taveta and Moshi/Arusha.
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President Kikwete was addressing a mammoth crowd at Soweni Primary School in Taveta sub-county after unveiling the project with Uhuru.
"This road is a vital link and an important road for both Kenya and Tanzania in particular the Southern parts of Tanzania that rely heavily on import and exports thorough the Port of Mombosa," said Kikwete.
He said he was aware of the massive delays caused by the poor state of the road. "It takes up to 14 hours for goods destined for Arusha from the Port of Mombasa to reach their destination. Once this section of the road is tarmacked and complete it will take only two and a half hours from Voi to Arusha," said the Tanzanian president.
Uhuru said the unveiling of the road project was only the beginning of better things to come. He said the ongoing construction of the standard gauge railway (SGR) and other massive infrastructural road projects will broaden Kenya's and the region's business potential.
"We are keen to ensure that proper infrastructure will open up avenues for great market that can compete effectively with other existing global commodity markets," said Uhuru.
The two presidents met at the Taveta border point early yesterday, where they unveiled a commemorative plaque for the road project.
The project is funded by the African Development Bank and Kenya. It stretches from Voi in Kenya to Arusha, Tanzania.
Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNha) is implementing the project in Kenya at the cost of Sh8.4 billion.
The function was attended by Cabinet secretaries Najib Balala (Mining), James Macharia (Transport and Infrastructure), Principal Secretary for Infrastructure John Mosonik, KeNHA Board Chairman Erastus Mwongera, Taita Taveta County Governor John Mruttu and Kenya High Commissioner to Tanzania Ali Chirau Mwakwere. The others were Taita-Taveta Senator Dan Mwazo, MPs Naomi Shaban (Taveta), Andrew Mwadime (Mwatate), Peter Shee (Ganze), Kabando Wa Kabando, Kimani Ngunjiri, Katoo Ole Metito and EALA MP Sara Bonaya.