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East African Officials Discuss Regional Transport Project

FILE - An aerial view shows the ongoing developments at the new 32-berth Lamu Port in Lamu County, Kenya December 9, 2020.

JUBA — Ministers from Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Sudan are holding a three-day meeting in Juba to discuss a project link to Kenya’s Lamu Port to South Sudan and Ethiopia through transport infrastructure.

The meeting, which began Wednesday, is aimed at fast-tracking the implementation of the project to ensure regional integration set in the African Union's 2063 agenda.

Kipchumba Murkomen, Kenya's cabinet secretary for Roads, Transport, and Public Works, said the East African nation has completed a road linking Lamu Port to Moyale near the border with Ethiopia, and is now completing a more than 730-kilometer road connecting Lamu Port to South Sudan's border town of Nadapal.

"The government of Kenya is committed to tarmacking the road from Lamu to Isiolo. Already good progress has been made," Murkomen said.

He said Kenya was resourcing the project to ensure it is completed.

Ethiopia’s Finance Minister Eyob Tekalign said despite internal challenges, the three countries must move forward to strengthen their economic growth through the transport project.

"As I have indicated we are committed to this grand vision but to convert this vision into clear and economic development, these mega projects desire joint efforts from all of us and require significant private sector, business community participation and also serious investment from development partners," Tekalign said.

Tekalign urged South Sudan to show seriousness and commitment by investing money in the project.

South Sudan’s vice president in charge of infrastructure cluster, Taban Deng Gai, admits Juba has done little to implement its part of the project. He said proposed work on the Juba-Torit-Nadapal road which connects South Sudan to Kenya stalled due to funding challenges.

Madut Biar Yel, South Sudan's minister of transport, said though South Sudan is behind schedule in the implementation of the project, the imitative comes with huge benefits and could transform lives and alleviate poverty in East Africa.

Yel said there are benefits to fostering transport linkage through out Africa, spanning as far as the Atlantic coast of West Africa, to promote "regional integration and social economic development along the transport corridor."

The project is eastern Africa’s largest and most ambitious infrastructure project consisting of several infrastructure interregional including highways, a crude oil pipeline, communication networks, railway lines, three airports and three resort cities among others.

It is expected to benefit at least 250 million people.