President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday launched the construction of a road to link Mombasa port and Moi International Airport, a project expected to spur trade in the East African region by decongesting the coastal city and linking to the newly constructed container terminal.
The Sh3.1 billion road project, jointly funded by Kenya (Sh1.1 billion) and the British government through the Department for International Development (Sh2 billion), will see Port Reitz road turned into a dual carriageway from the Port of Mombasa to Moi airport.
Speaking during the launch, President Kenyatta said when completed the road will not only increase investment and trade opportunities in the East and Central Africa region but it will also boost growth of the tourism industry.
“When the number of visitors to this city grows, more job opportunities will be created and the youth will benefit,” President Kenyatta said.
Another Sh2.5 billion has been set aside to compensate people who have been moved to create room for expansion of the road.
The project is also jointly funded by the British government through TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) to the tune of Sh2.7 billion while the Kenyan government will compensate land owners at the cost of Sh2.5 billion.
This is the first phase of a Sh8 billion project that will see construction of roads in Changamwe, Port Reitz and Magongo, according to outgoing TMEA country director Dr Chris Kiptoo.
The president thanked the British and Japanese governments for supporting projects in the country. Japan is funding construction of the second container terminal.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure James Macharia said that improvement of road network linking the airport and port improve traffic flow in Mombasa and the entire transport corridor.
“Specifically, the link will serve as a key catalyst to improving cargo handling capacity of the port of Mombasa in order to adequately serve Kenya’s growing economy as well as retaining the Port of Mombasa as the preferred port of use by the neighbouring economies,” he said.
British High Commissioner to Kenya Nic Hailey said his government will continue working closely with Kenya to achieve its development agenda.
“The UK is proud to support the Mombasa port modernisation project. It will reduce the cost of doing business, improve infrastructure, and boost trade and economic growth in the EAC. This is a critical road. Our support, in partnership with and fitting with the overall vision of the Kenyan government, will benefit the population of Mombasa and reduce the cost of goods to millions of EAC residents,” he said.
Other road projects within the coastal city, the President said, include dualling of the Mombasa-Mariakani Highway, Dongo Kundu Bypass and Mombasa Northern Bypass.
Once the project is completed, the transport and movement in Mombasa County will ease significantly, boosting industrial development and reducing the cost of transport.
The president was accompanied by Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, National Land Commission chairman Muhammad Swazuri, Cabinet Secretaries James Macharia (Transport and Infrastructure), Najib Balala (Tourism), Dan Kazungu (Mining), Henry Rotich (Treasury) and Rachael Omamo (Defense).
Mr Joho said the county government would collaborate with the national government to ensure that development projects are implemented.
“Mine is to re-affirm our commitment as the county government that we will do all that we will be required to do so that we expedite these process of the sake of our people,” said Mr Joho.
He noted that compensation of land owners was too high, and appealed to them to consider giving a “discount” because if a road was constructed it would also benefit them as Kenya citizens.