Wed, 27 Sep 2023

MALABA, Kenya, May 29 (Xinhua) -- Kenyan and Ugandan officials on Monday announced plans to install more scanners at the Malaba town border post to tackle congestion that inhibits the free movement of people and goods.

The officials from the two neighboring countries that are members of the East African Community (EAC), a regional bloc, said an agreement has also been struck to open auxiliary roads at the border to accelerate its decongestion.

Kipchumba Murkomen, the Kenyan cabinet secretary for Roads and Infrastructure, and his Uganda counterpart, Musa Ecweru, said Sunday evening that installation of the scanners and auxiliary road are temporary measures aimed at decongesting the Malaba border post ahead of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) extension.

The agreement to erect more scanners and open auxiliary roads at East Africa's second busiest exit and entry points is among key resolutions reached during a meeting attended by roads and transport cabinet ministers in the EAC region in Kampala, the Ugandan capital, on May 26.

"We have identified challenges that are related to scanning processes within the border and agreed to increase the number of scanning equipment to make it faster with backup machines on both sides of the border," Murkomen said during an inspection tour at the Malaba border.

Congestion has been an endemic challenge at the Malaba border with snarl-ups by cargo trucks, sometimes stretching for more than 70 km.

Murkomen regretted that malfunctioning of scanners hamper cargo movement along the single-lane Malaba-Bungoma highway in western Kenya, causing gridlock in the highway linking the Port of Mombasa and Malaba.

He said investment in the acquisition of additional scanners and opening of new lanes for cargo trucks will decongest the Malaba border that clears approximately 1,000 cargo trucks daily.

Murkomen noted that with an auxiliary road built, cargo trucks will be diverted to a lane that will connect to Malaba, adding that the lane will primarily be constructed to accommodate cargo movers.

He said engagements between Kenya and Uganda and other EAC member countries are at an advanced stage to extend the SGR from Naivasha to Malaba and later to Kampala.

The extension of SGR all the way to the Democratic Republic of the Congo would turn the region into a transport hub, and spur the growth of businesses, said Murkomen.

Ecweru said that governments in the EAC region are committed to facilitating the free movement of goods and people, adding that decongestion at the Malaba border will be realized soon.

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