Countering dangers on the roads
The northern corridor is one of East and Central Africa’s most intensively-used goods haulage routes – and its most dangerous one too. The axis linking Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Congo sees most lorry accidents in all of Africa. Now the six states that it crosses want to join together to ensure a greater degree of safety on this key freight transport route.
The northern African road corridor connects Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan and large parts of Kenya with the latter’s deepsea port of Mombasa, on the Indian Ocean. It is the most important axis for the transport of cargo in East and Central Africa. In 2011 around 20 million t of goods were carried in the corridor, including 4 million t handled as intra-regional trade.
Customs union drives business forward
The establishment in 2013 of a unified customs union by the road’s six «littoral» states significantly eased trade on the route. «The customs union has drastically reduced waiting periods and transit times for truck drivers, as well as slashing transport costs,» the heads of those states through which the corridor runs ascertained at a recent summit meeting. Now they, together with the International Road Transport Union (IRU), are considering the implementation of further measures. They could include the introduction of the international TIR system, which would further promote overall trade as well as cross-border goods transport.
More security on the roads
Over and above this the nations are very keen on improving the safety situation in the northern corridor too. The route is the continental axis with the most road accidents in all of Africa. Trucks are very frequently involved in theses incidents.
Professional drivers using the northern passage are often on the road for hours on end without a break – partially on account of a lack of guarded road-side stations. Fatigue and declining concentration levels are amongst the most frequently-cited reasons for accidents. In order to increase road transport safety the northern corridor’s transit and transport coordination authority (NCTTCA) has thus recommended infrastructure improvements on accident-prone sections of the route, as well as the creation of guarded parking and rest areas for lorries.
In a study published in spring the authority defined 144 suitable sites for truck lay-bys along the 2,800 km corridor, and recommended to the countries involved that 67 locations be given top priority for the rapid construction of such facilities.
According to the NCTTCA around 40 of these compounds can be established immediately, as they are located on land that is ready and where work can begin. The authority is seeking private financing for the centres, but it can also envisage realisation as a PPP. Thus the northern corridor’s six «littoral» states are now seeking suitable investors to implement their plans.
So far the road-side stations project has made most progress in Kenya. It recently became the first country along the corridor to institute a working group to drive matters forward. It is now in the process of planning for the construction of 22 such service centres in Kenya.
In detail the government in Nairobi is preparing plans as well as the subsequent construction phase for two pilot facilities. They will then also be able to serve as model road-side stations for all the centres that are being planned along the entire length of the corridor. The pilot compounds will be located in Sultan Hamud (between Mombasa and Nairobi) and in Salgaa, near Nakuru, in southwestern Kenya.
Zambia investing in safety on the road to Tanzania
The southeast African state of Zambia is also planning to build truck lay-bys on the Kinsale–Kakonde road in the next two years. The measures on the important 210 km north–south corridor to and from Tanzania form a part of a large road reconstruction project. The Zambian enterprise, in contrast with the East and Central African undertaking, has already secured financing. In June the African Development Bank (AfDB) authorised a USD 243 million loan.