Construction of the Sh26.1 billion Kapchorwa-Kitale-Saum road has been launched, allowing farm produce and goods from the North Rift to easily reach Uganda.
Deputy President William Ruto flagged off the dual carriageway that passes through agricultural land and is expected to scale up cross-border trade between Kenya and Uganda.
The 150km road set for completion in 2021 will be a boon for farmers that want to sell their produce on either side of the border.
“The Kapchorwa-Suam-Kitale road will be a major artery linking Kenya and Uganda and will enhance connectivity, stimulate activity and ease movement of people, goods and services,” Mr Ruto said during project’s launch in Kapchorwa.
Kenya will contribute Sh14.7 billion ($147.3 million) financed by the African Development Bank and African Development Fund to facilitate construction of the 77km of the project that sit on its soil.
Uganda will contribute Sh10.5 billion ($105.76 million) into the project financed by the African Development Bank (ADB) and African Development Fund (ADF) as a debt. This will facilitate construction of the remaining 73km that runs on its side.
Over the past, the road that traverses the black cotton soils area has been receiving periodic maintenance but with heavy rainfall its condition fast deteriorated making it impassible.
The rolling and mountainous terrain of most of the sections on the road has made it difficult for farmers to get their produce to the market, denying them revenue.
Uganda has been exporting electricity to Kenya in bulk and food, especially cereals and bananas while Kenya mainly exports manufactured goods, fertiliser and edible oils to the landlocked country.
Last year’s adverse weather forced Kenya to buy food such as maize, rice, sugar and milk powder to meet local demand and ease rising prices.
It is estimated that the upgrade from gravel to bitumen standard will drastically cut travel time in Uganda (Kapchorwa-Suam) from four hours to one and a half hours. On the Kenyan side, while travel time from Suam to Kitale will fall from one and a half hours to 45 minutes.
“The road will increase trade, investment and make sure that prosperity is shared by both countries,” said Mr Ruto
Aside from easing movement of goods and services, the project seeks to eliminate trade barriers and support integration among East African Community (EAC) and the Great Lakes Region.