Malaba link road upgrade to ease truck congestion


Trucks stuck in traffic jam at Malaba border on May 27, 2020. FILE PHOTO | NMG

An access road in Malaba border point is being revamped to ease traffic congestion that has been made worse by coronavirus.

Transport secretary James Macharia told Parliament the Ministry is engaging TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) as the contractor for the upgrade.

In the recent weeks, truck drivers have been stuck in traffic stretching 40km along the Bungoma-Kanduyi-Malava road due to lengthy wait for results of the Covid-19 test that is mandatory before crossing the border.

“A Contractor will be on site this week to upgrade the stretch to the new bridge, to tarmac and to complete the bridge in one week,” Mr Macharia said in a statement to the Senate Committee on Roads.

While traffic congestion is common on the Bungoma-Kandunyi-Malava road, it has become worse in the recent months after Ugandan authorities declined to recognise covid-19 results for tests conducted in Kenya.

The road connects to the Malaba border point meaning that the traffic snarl-up is causing untold suffering to truck drivers and residents of the counties it passes through.

Malaba border is the second busiest border crossing in Africa and serves a number of land-locked countries including Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Nothern Zambia, DR Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan.

Truck drivers have also complained of harassment from Ugandan authorities, time wastage before tests are conducted, poor handling when being tested and unlawful detention.

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula in his submission on the floor of the House noted that from Malaba border, the trucks are extending up to way past Bungoma town and midway to Webuye.

This despite some trucks carrying hazardous and inflammable cargo. Additionally, there are no sanitation facilities for the drivers along the roads.

“We are mobilising budgetary resources for construction of permanent bathrooms and toilets at designated locations along the Northern Corridor,” said Mr Macharia.

Last week, Kenyan truck drivers staged a protest on the Bungoma-Malaba highway citing mistreatment by Ugandan authorities.

Their Tanzanian counterparts have also decried delayed cargo movement into Kenya owing to Covid-19 testing.