Open letter to Transport CS over Busia county roads
Friday, February 12th, 2021
I am a resident of Busia county, a Kenyan and strong proponent for regional trading blocs. I know your docket is very heavy and such county related matters easily get forgotten.
The state of the transnational road that links Mombasa to the Great Lakes region through Busia town is an eyesore, an embarrassment to the country and has made us a laughing stock by the rest of our neighbours.
That Busia remains a one street town, even with increased traffic, population growth and impact of trans-border movement, the sight of tracks queues stretching miles as they wait clearance at the border point and the dust in the town as vehicles try making their way using any possible space away from the congested road, is killing the town.
The story of preparation by Kenya National Highways Authority to commission expansion works have been in the pipeline for long, and emergency intervention is required.
I am sure, you have a lot of correspondents on the same including from the Governor Sospeter Ojaamong.
The latest was by the President of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Richard Ngatia and Paul Otuoma- the chair of the Privatisation Commission during a recent open day in the town.
Without rehabilitating and expanding the main transnational road, other great national development projects like the One-Stop Border Post, which was commissioned at the Busia border by the Heads of States from the East African region cannot succeed.
Suffice to note that currently, the general infrastructure linking Kenya with her neighbours in the West, through Busia town are not developed.
While Malaba border point is a bit organised, the failure to actualise the Mulwanda border point, earlier gazetted by President Kibaki’s government remains a paper project.
There were plans to make Busia a dry port - where some of the clearing business at the port of Mombasa would have moved to Busia, translating into more investment opportunities and income generation to the county government and we were excited. But our hopes are dwindling.
Sir, many recent feasibility studies done in the county show that, in addition to the port potential as a link to the Great Lakes region and central Africa, which requires that road improved and expanded, the country has a huge potential for cement production, organic fertiliser manufacturing plant, cassava and sugar production on large scale.
The proximity to Lake Victoria and rivers Sio, Nzoia and Yala and the possibility of gold deposits in Samia Hills makes the county richly endowed. But with the current transport challenge, very few private investors will risk their money. That message came out from several speakers during the business open day.
There is a lot of goodwill and the county government has enacted very conducive laws and policies to spur in and across border trade, but the road remains a stumbling block.
The tourism potential in the county will greatly improve through re working the airstrip and building the water landing sites along the various water bodies – the county has tourism sites including Kakapel rock art museum, captivating Kakapel caves, rocky hills of Kisoko and the Lake Victoria viewpoints.
The rehabilitation of that main road in addition to transforming the town from a one street, will be a major a legacy project for this government, by way of opening up transnational trade, enhancing value addition and manufacturing .
The next letter will be to the CS Trade and National Treasury: We need to discuss the issue of preference taxation and increasing the competitiveness of Kenyan products at the border, looking at what our neighbours are doing. — The writer is Media Council of Kenya director, Media Training and Development