Movement around the Mombasa port is set to improve following the commissioning of two key roads linking the harbour to the Northern Corridor transport route.
The Nyerere-Mbaraki and Kipevu roads are major arteries to and from the port.
The Nyerere-Mbaraki road was funded by the UK government, the Danish International Development Agency (Danida) and Mombasa County.
Kipevu Road was funded by the Kenya Ports Authority and the UK government through TradeMark East Africa (TMEA).
On Tuesday, UK High Commissioner Jane Marriott joined Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, East Africa Community Principal Secretary Kevit Desai and KPA acting Managing Director John Mwangemi to launch the road, which they said will boost businesses around the port.
The Sh2.04 billion road will reduce the time a driver takes through Gate 18/20 from six days to 30 minutes.
Once completed, the Nyerere-Mbaraki road, which cost Sh403 million, will reduce truck turnaround time to the port from eight hours to less than four.
The two roads are expected to improve connectivity, thereby enhancing efficiency and seamless movement of cargo from the port through the Northern Corridor.
Mr Mwangemi said the expanded Kipevu Road is a big boost to the port as it has been widened to provide seamless connection and ease the flow of traffic into and out of the port.
“KPA is committed to working … with all stakeholders, industry players and partners in the port’s modernisation and capacity expansion projects,” he said.
He said the project aimed to ease pressure from trucks queuing in the yards and reduce the average time for freight movement through the port, thereby promoting business.
Ms Marriott assured Kenya of the UK government’s commitment to boosting trade through the port and across the country.
She said the UK has supported key physical infrastructure and service delivery in and around the port since 2011.
“The Mbaraki road is transformational. It will transform lives and rejuvenate the economy and create jobs,” Ms Marriot said.
The projects will not only increase trade opportunities in Kenya and overseas but will help Kenyan firms exploit the UK-Kenya Economic Partnership Agreement.
“We are discussing how we will improve ways of doing business in Mombasa and creating efficiency,” Governor Joho said.
“As a port city, our greatest achievement in port-related business is efficiency and turnaround time. We want businesses to operate 24 hours, which will create employment.”
TMEA Chief Executive Officer Frank Matsaert assured Kenya of its commitment to enhancing the trading environment.
TMEA had invested Sh10 billion at the port by the end of 2020 in support of infrastructure development, adoption of modern systems and safety reforms to reduce greenhouse emissions.
The Mombasa port is the gateway to East Africa, connecting Kenya and East African Community member states.
The Shimanzi and Mbaraki areas host oil terminals, and clinker-handling and grain-handling facilities that bring in heavy trucks, causing congestion and making it difficult for traffic to flow in and out of the area to the Northern Corridor, North Coast and South Coast.
Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) Northern Corridor Field Supervisor David Obiero lauded the launch of the Kipevu road saying it will ease traffic pressure for cargo trucks exiting the port of Mombasa through the Changamwe interchange.
"It's the preferred route for truckers and is a major boost. Gate 18 has been the main exit gate for trucks leaving the port for cargo. Gate 24 started operating when Dongo Kundu road was done but transporters prefer Gate 18 due to several private weighbridges they use to ascertain cargo weight before reaching Mariakani main weighbridge," said Mr Obiero.