Northern Corridor Seeks New Routes to Reduce Congestion in Malaba, Busia

By LUKE ANAMI

The Northern Corridor is exploring alternative transit routes in East Africa to increase freight transport and reduce the backlog at border points.

The transport corridor, long disadvantaged by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and facing fierce competition from the central corridor, is now considering alternative transit routes via Lwakhakha (Kenya-Uganda border), Nadapal (Kenya-Sudan border from South) and Todonyang (Kenya-Uganda-Ethiopia border).

The Northern Corridor connects the Kenyan seaport of Mombasa to the hinterland countries of Burundi, DRC, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda.

“To alleviate traffic congestion at the Malaba and Busia border posts and to provide alternative transit routes for truckers, the policy organs of the NCTTCA at their August 2021 session requested the Secretariat to undertake a investigation of the trade and transport logistics of the Northern Corridor alternative transit routes via Lwakhakha and Nadapal,” said Justus Omae Nyarandi, Executive Secretary of the Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Coordination Authority (NCTTCA).

“The opening of alternative transit routes through Lwakhakha and Nadapal will facilitate traffic through Malaba and Busia border posts. Traffic targeted to use this route includes cargo to South Sudan, northern Uganda and parts of northeastern DRC.

Flow increase

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Although Kenya has many operating border crossings, only two – Busia and Malaba – are used by heavy duty vehicles.

However, with increasing traffic volumes on the Northern Corridor, these stations are overloaded, often resulting in long queues of trucks and delays in cargo clearance.

Total freight throughput in Mombasa has increased over the past five years from 27 million tonnes in 2016 to 34 million tonnes in 2020 against a target of 35.90 million tonnes, according to the report by the Observatory of the Northern Corridor from June 2021.

The survey conducted in October 2021, was validated by Member States stakeholders during a virtual workshop held on 9 December 2021.

“The survey observed that Member States have made progress in developing transport infrastructure on the Northern Corridor, contributing to increased volumes of goods traded and transported along the corridor,” Mr. Nyarandi said.

“Nevertheless, infrastructure gaps were noted and recommendations made to facilitate the use of alternative transit routes via Lwakhakha and Nadapal by heavy duty vehicles.”

Waiting areas

Northern Corridor transport infrastructure includes roads, railways and pipelines, inland waterways, border stations, freight stations (cargo storage/handling areas) and state-designated weighbridges members.

Total trade along the Northern Corridor is estimated at $3.17 billion, according to the Northern Corridor Observatory Report, 2021.

Formal trade between Kenya and Uganda accounts for 32%, followed by trade between DRC and Rwanda at 19.1% of the total value of trade in the region.

Kenya is the largest exporter in the region.

“Uganda is 98% the Northern Corridor. Kenya’s cargo is much larger. And with the use of the RMS, the Northern Corridor will likely claim 50% of imports to Kigali,” Mr. Nyarandi said.

Despite the decrease in volumes in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the volume of transit cargo in 2020 increased by 2% to reach 1.360 million TEUs in 2020, compared to 1.417 million TEUs in 2019.

The growth was attributed to tremendous growth in transit traffic for Rwanda, South Sudan and DRC, while Uganda and Burundi saw a slight decline according to the Northern Corridor Observatory 2021 report.

In the report, imports take the lion’s share of total freight throughput, accounting for around 80%, and resulting in an unfavorable balance of trade.

Freight transport by rail has grown steadily, from 28% in 2018 to 40% in 2019.

Uganda took most of the transit traffic through the port of Mombasa, accounting for about 76% of transit traffic, South Sudan stands at 10% and DRC at around 7%.

“The introduction of freight transport via the SGR from Mombasa to Naivasha and on the Standard Gauge Railway to Uganda will dramatically change the equation on the Northern Corridor,” Nyarandi said.

“The fuel jet through Kisumu Port has also seen significant transport volumes on the Northern Corridor.”

The Northern Corridor also envisions a transport route to Ethiopia. However, Kenya has yet to upgrade the International National Highway and the development of the Kimaeti-Malakis-Lwakhakha Highway off the Webuye-Malaba Highway.

“The transit road from Kainuk to Juba via Lodwar and Nadapal is under construction, but priority should be given to the construction of the one kilometer stretch of road between the entry/exit clearance stations in Kenya and South Sudan. South to Nadapal to allow heavy duty vehicles to use this road,” Nyarandi said. East Africa.

Classified station

The Northern Corridor also expects Kenya to develop the road linking Moroto-Uganda to the Todonyang-Kenya/Ethiopia border via Lodwar.

The road has great potential to boost trade and tourism in this region between the four countries of Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Uganda.

“In addition, there is a need to officially declare a border post between Uganda and Kenya at Nakiloro/Lokiriama and a border post at Todonyang between Kenya and Ethiopia,” he explained.

The border crossings and the Moroto-Todonyang road will help provide connectivity with the Lapsset Corridor for shippers in Uganda and beyond who choose to use Lamu Port.

“It will also offer the shortest distance by road between Uganda and Ethiopia; about 250 km,” Mr. Nyarandi said.

The Northern Corridor received a boost last week following the reopening of the Katuna/Gatuna border between Uganda and Rwanda, which had been closed since February 2019 amid a diplomatic standoff between neighboring Commonwealth of Nations countries. East Africa.

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