Major EAC infrastructure projects were long overdue

This past week has come with so much drama it feels like the week even had more days than the weeks before. I have to keep reminding myself that South Sudan is now part of us (East African Community) and so I make an effort to keep track of what is happening there. As I wrote this, the whole country was still waiting for Dr. Riek Machar, to fly back to Juba and be reinstated as the deputy to President Salva Kiir.

This past week has come with so much drama it feels like the week even had more days than the weeks before. I have to keep reminding myself that South Sudan is now part of us (East African Community) and so I make an effort to keep track of what is happening there. As I wrote this, the whole country was still waiting for Dr. Riek Machar, to fly back to Juba and be reinstated as the deputy to President Salva Kiir.

Each time Dr. Machar is to fly a disagreement comes up on how many soldiers and weapons he can be allowed to come with to Juba. Journalists have been extending their hotel stays as they wait for this big man to show up. This standoff has put the whole peace process in question for a young country trying to recover from a civil war that cost many lives and property.

 

The above situation sometimes makes me wonder whether admitting South Sudan to the EAC happened at the right time or could have waited a bit for them to sort out their issues or if it in anyway serves to push them towards resolving their issues so they can look good when with other EAC members. In the same breath Burundi continues to ail with its political mess that is slowly eating it up.

 

Kenya gave us something to smile about when their Rugby 7s team won the HSBC Sevens World Series in Singapore by thrashing the highest ranked 7s team, Fiji. The team received a heroes’ welcome and has already bagged a heavy cash prize (Kshs10m) from President Uhuru Kenyatta who even exchanged his suit for a rugby jersey to execute a lineout.

 

Across the border to Uganda, the famous ‘Harvard of Africa’ aka Makerere University gobbled so much news space over a conflict between two of the most famous academicians both working at the Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR). Dr Stella Nyanzi a medical anthropologist with a PhD from the University of London stripped naked in protest of the way she was allegedly being treated by the Director of MISR, the world renowned Professor Mahmood Mamdani. 

Prof. Mamdani argues that Dr. Nyanzi refused to teach and so she does not deserve office space at the institute while Dr Nyanzi who is also known for her controversial writings on Facebook claims her contract does not include teaching although she admits to have agreed to do the same at different occasions. The appointments board of the university has now suspended Nyanzi pending investigations into the whole saga.

The saga above dominated conversations on social media compelling some of us to look elsewhere for what else was going in the region. That is how I found out that our friends from Bongo or Dar es Salaam were busy bragging about the newly launched Nyerere Bridge.

The bridge formerly known as ‘Kigamboni Bridge’ because it connects Dar es Salaam’s central business district to Kigamboni across the Kurasini creek was renamed ‘Nyerere Bridge’ in honour of Tanzania’s founding leader Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. It was launched by President John Pombe Magufuli.

The 680m long bridge is the longest cable stayed bridge in East Africa and it has earned the Tanzanians some bragging rights when it comes to major infrastructure projects in the region. Many cities in the region are congested with traffic and a lot of time is wasted on the roads by commuters not because the cars are many but largely because the roads have not kept up with the growth of the cities.

A similar bridge could go a long way in easing the lives of the people of Mombasa who have to use the Likoni ferry every day. Decongesting traffic in these cities should be a major concern for our leaders who often zoom through with their escort cars leaving others sitting in traffic yet expected to work and pay taxes for the country’s growth and development.

Kenya’s Thika Superhighway and the southern bypass are commendable efforts and hopefully the Entebbe Expressway will also make the trip to and from the airport a less stressful one. Ultimately the standard gauge railways crisscrossing the region together with pipelines will be what we really need to bring down the cost of life for many.

The real challenge now is to shorten the time of conception and implementation so that projects are not completed when what they were supposed to solve has already grown into a bigger problem as has been the case with Uganda’s northern bypass project.

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