Good move on transit route
Posted Wednesday, February 13 2013 at 02:00
There is little doubt that the Mombasa trade route has been the best option-regardless of its numerous challenges-for many years.
Bearing in mind the geographical limitations that we have to deal with as an economy, it has always been a central need for the government to think critically about our trade access to the sea.
There is little doubt that the Mombasa trade route has been the best option-regardless of its numerous challenges-for many years. But our long-standing inability to think beyond the Mombasa route has left us bound to the port’s inefficiencies and the election tensions that come with crippling knock-on effects for our economy.
It is refreshing to note that the government has embarked on strategies that are meant to move us beyond a single trade route to the sea. Last week, the Ministry of Finance confirmed plans to revive the use of the southern sea access trade route through Tanzania to reduce the vulnerabilities that Uganda faces while transporting goods from Kenya’s Mombasa Port into the country.
Finance minister Maria Kiwanuka said governments of Uganda and Tanzania have endorsed the plan, adding that all line agencies were in advanced stages to implement it. Ms Kiwanuka said there has always been a southern route through Mwanza or Mutula Town to Dar-es-Salaam, but noted that the current plan was not a short-term intervention in anticipation of the forthcoming elections in Kenya.
It is good to know that this is not another short-term intervention. With more than 90 per cent of our international trade fully reliant on our ability to efficiently access the sea, long-term and sustainable plans ought to be in place to shield our economy from the inefficiencies that has slowed it down for so long.
Uganda and Tanzania have also confirmed the availability of water vessels like MV Kaawa and the immediate dedication of MV Umoja for Uganda-destined cargo operation on Lake Victoria.
Still, the government is to spend $180 million (Shs486 billion) on the construction of a Port at Bukasa in Kampala. The New Kampala Port’s capacity will be eight million tonnes per year. The project, which will connect Uganda to the Tanzanian port in Dar-es-Salaam, is expected to offer another strategic alternative to the Kampala-Mombasa route.
Thus far, the right moves have been taken by the government in this regard but we need to sustain the momentum.