Tanzania and Kenya are targeting joint infrastructure projects to help boost trade flow across their common border amid thawing relations between Dar es Salaam and other partners of the East Africa Community (EAC).
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Tanzania counterpart John Magufuli said on Wednesday they would Thursday launch the construction of the Arusha-Tengeru dual carriage way and a bypass road in Tengeru as part efforts to smoothen the flow of cargo.
The road is part of the Arusha – Holili – Taveta - Voi road that links northern Tanzania with Taveta, on the Kenyan side.
“We want to take our friendship and relations to higher levels by implementing projects that impact positively on the lives of our people,” the Heads of State said in a joint statement following a meeting on the sidelines of a regional summit in Arusha.
Kenya last week opened its first one-stop border post with Tanzania at Holili in a bid to cut the time taken to clear goods between the two nations and increase volumes of transshipment cargo through the Mombasa port.
The $12 million (Sh1.2 billion) facility at the Taveta-Holili crossing is intended to reduce by a third the time trucks take to cross the border and will also cut the distance between Mombasa and Bujumbura by 400 kilometres.
The one-stop-border post is first to be commissioned among the total 15 border facilities under construction across the EAC bloc and South Sudan.
“I and my friend and brother President Magufuli have similar visions for our countries. We are targeting development projects that grow the economy and eradicate poverty,” said President Kenyatta.
Tanzania’s latest commitment to joint infrastructure projects with Kenya and coming in the wake of a joint oil pipeline deal with Uganda on Monday could help clear its latest “lone-ranger” image among other EAC partners on key integration issues such as trade and infrastructure development.
The fallout between Tanzania and Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda was fuelled by the formation of a “coalition of the willing” by the three states to push for faster integration within the EAC.
At a meeting in Mombasa in August 2013 regional leaders including Mr Kenyatta, Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) and Paul Kagame (Rwanda) discussed key proposals to deepen integration without the input of Tanzania.
The meeting was followed later by another in Entebbe, Uganda in what most analysts read as a resolve by Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda to ditch the laborious consensus model of the EAC, in favour of one where there is a “leading tendency” by a willing few.
The meetings drew anger from former Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete who alleged a scheme to isolate Tanzania from the EAC bloc.
Dr Magufuli on Wednesday however said Tanzania was committed to EAC integration and pledged to work with other members of the bloc.