Mombasa is as grand a place to be as any visitor, tour guide, guide book or local will attest. Mombasa Raha, we often nostalgically say of the beach tourist resort city that has a history ancient enough to fill a library and a port that is the gateway to the East and Central Africa heartland. Enough said.
Being Kenya’s second largest city, Mombasa has been the destination of choice for conferences, teachers’ conventions, graduands, local and international tourists and parliamentary committees. But lately, the city has been host to a different kind of visitor: legislators from South Sudan, three Presidents, and now, ministers from the East African Community (EAC) partner states.
While Africa’s youngest nation has the largest traffic, so far, it is fair to say that the South Sudanese are understandably anxious that the entry point of goods they badly need to build their country from scratch is secure, efficient and worth the arm and a leg they are parting with.
Also, they are anxious to see the point of departure of their most precious commodity — oil.
The working tours have been conducted by Kenyan officials of equal stature to underline the seriousness with which Kenya is making of these high-profile visits. Typically, each delegation has seen representatives from trade, industry, environment, finance, investment, immigration, transport and security.
- 1 Joint efforts needed to enhance efficiency in cargo business
- 2 How expressway city traffic mess can be avoided
- 3 Mombasa lawyer loses Sh20 million to ‘mganga hatari’
- 4 Life slowly returning to normal in Old Town
These are heady times for Kenya, the only country in the region that has not discovered any meaningful oil or gas deposits. She is, however, very strategically placed to reap big-time from the fortunes of her neighbours as the main conveyor.
In trade and diplomatic terms, the region is literally bankrolling and banking on Kenya to make a difference and make sense of the signs and curves plotted on their respective economic roadmaps.
That is why it is vital that Kenya addresses the matter of the Lamu Port and ensure it is dredged, serviced and running as soon as yesterday; the proposed 24-hour operations of Mombasa port and airport be fast-tracked; the bottlenecks in cargo clearance and handling uncorked; the proposed railway upgrade be accorded first priority or else the increased number of trucks make mincemeat of the already overburdened highways; and non-tariff barriers thrown into the sea.
The die is cast. The players are known. The stakes are right up there for all to see. Meaning, Kenya has her work cut out.