According to recent reports, the representatives of Tanzania and Kenya, President Jakaya Kikwete and President Mwai Kibaki respectively, have announced that they are prepared to launch the anticipated Arusha-Namanga-Athi River Road Construction Project later this week, on April 28, as part of a continued effort to improve both the Kenya and Tanzania transport sectors.
This project is part of the current EAC Road Network Project Corridor No. 5, which extends from its base in Moyale, Kenya to its base in Tunduma, Tanzania and is being co-financed by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB).
In total, these two agencies have supplied USD 156.3 million in loans in order to pay for the expenses created by the civil works and construction supervision.
Currently, the JICA is providing USD 63.2 million in financial assistance for the Arusha-Namanga portion of the construction project in Tanzania while the ADB is providing USD 93.1 million in financial assistance for the Athi River-Namanga portion that is located in Kenya.
In addition to this, the governments of the participating countries are providing a total of USD 8 million in financial assistance to further fund the project.
Currently, the Tanzanian portion of the road is narrow, stretching an average of 5.5 meters, and will extend 105 km between Arusha and Namanga
The average speed on the road is 70km/hr, with current traffic estimates reaching 2,800 vehicles per day on the Arusha side and 450 vehicles on the Namanga side.
Since the time that it was constructed to meet bitumen standards in 1967, the road has exceeded its designed life expectancy and has started to become deformed and is thus due for reconstruction.
For this reason, construction in Tanzania officially began in September 2008 and is expected to be finished by July 2010.
Meanwhile, the portion of the road that is currently being constructed in Kenya is 135 km long and, while it is in better condition that the Tanzanian portion of the road, the Namanga-Athi River section is still marked with potholes and other deformations.
Unlike the Tanzanian portion, construction on the Kenyan portion of the project was begun in November 2007 and is expected to be finished by November 2010.
Upon completion, the Arusha-Namanga-Athi River Road Construction project is expected to help to facilitate traffic congestion and movement from Zambia to Ethiopia, Uganda and Sudan, through Tanzania and Kenya.
In addition, the road will also help to encourage the traffic of imports and exports from the northern port of Mombasa, which is part of the Tanzania Northern Tourist Circuit and serves the Kenyan national parks of Amboseli and Tsavo as well as the Tanzanian national parks of Manyara, Ngorongoro and Kilimanjaro.