Northern corridor moots ambitious cross-border trade plan

Northern corridor moots ambitious cross-border trade plan

The Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Coordination Authority (NCTTCA) has hatched a strategic plan to open cross-border networks to facilitate free movement.

Angelo Lado Gore, General Manager of the South Sudan Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture (SSCCIA), said they had already discussed the plan with the private sector committee for the Northern Corridor on Monday.

He said his team met with the Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Coordination Authority and agreed to turn the corridor into an Economic Development Corridor by connecting all the economic potential routes.

“All this aims at creating forward and backward economic development linkages between key sectors and transport infrastructure development, especially the program for the development of roadside stations facilities (RSS) along the transport corridor,” he said.

Lado said the program will be reinforced through the Northern Corridor Infrastructure Master Plan.

He said the joint mechanism between the two sides would help to establish a joint market in border areas in the country to facilitate the free movement of goods.

Lado said if the plans succeed, the RSS would eliminate driver fatigue and improve security and health for crews, long-distance travellers, and cargo.

One of the plans is the construction of international highways that connect South Sudan with other Northern Corridor countries, according to Lado.

“The RSS initiative is based on international best practices for providing services and facilities for motorists and travellers along major highways.”

He said the two sides will share experiences, promote capacity building and develop the private sectors within and around the neighbouring countries.

On Monday, after a consultative meeting with the country’s chamber of commerce in Juba, Gilbert Langat, the chairperson of the private sector committee for the Northern Corridor, said the initiative will help in the development of the private sector in the country as well as the region.

“Northern Corridor [entails] routes coming from Mombasa through South Sudan. We have been looking at the infrastructure in the countries that we pass through and to see what the opportunities that can strengthen the development of those routes,” he said.

He said they are engaging the Chamber of Commerce because they are also traders.

“They have the people who can do good business, government facilitates, but the private sector does the business, so it was great to engage them,” he added.

In August this year, the East African Council of Ministers approved a $4.4 million budget for the 2021/2022 financial year to implement and complete pending projects of the Northern Corridor.

The budget, passed at the 33rd meeting, was recommended by the executive committee as the corridor reports inefficiencies and challenges in achieving its full potential in promoting intra-regional trade and integration.

Slow pace

According to the East African report, the Council of Ministers said it had acknowledged the slow implementation of key corridor projects, forcing them to seek support from the private sector through public-private partnerships (PPPs).

“Some of the key programs still pending include the establishment of the $700 million Road Side Stations (RSS), developing conformity testing laboratories to improve efficiency along the corridor, and implementing uniform levies as agreed on in 2015 in Kinshasa.”

It also revealed that the “RSS project seeks to put up 67 roadside stations out of the 141 stations identified back in 2005 to serve as rest points for truck drivers in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

The NCTCCA is an intergovernmental body encompassing six countries in Eastern Africa, tasked with coordinating transport infrastructure improvements. South Sudan joined the body in 2012.