The South Sudan Link Road is of special importance for regional integration and economic development in East Africa as it connects landlocked South Sudan to Northwest Kenya and to the regional transport network linking Kenya, especially the port of Mombasa, to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the eastern parts of Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania. Rehabilitation of the South Sudan Link Road is strongly promoted by the East African Community (EAC) and by the African Union (AU) through its Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA). For Kenya, the project is one of the national priority investments in road infrastructure as the Government of Kenya (GoK) aims to develop the regions in the Northwest of the country that until now exhibit development indicators far below the national average in all categories.
Despite the important link function the South Sudan Link Road could fulfil, trade in the sub region is currently low due to the poor condition of the road. Heavy vehicle traffic, especially in the context of UN relief operations in South Sudan, has led to degradation of the road. The upgrading of the corridor contributes to creating and enlarging markets, particularly that of regional agricultural trade. Induced exogenous benefits will occur, such as industrial, agricultural or tourist activities that were previously constrained by poor access. Social benefits will arise from the increased mobility of the population, improved accessibility to health, education and other services and enhanced road safety. Improved connectivity is also crucial to ensure security of supply in the current fragile situation in South Sudan. Connectivity of South Sudan will be improved allowing for increased trade in the region and faster and cheaper options for import for South Sudan which will contribute to food security and improve the living conditions and resilience of the population.
The project is financed by EU, KfW and the Government of Kenya and implemented by the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA). Main activities of the project comprise construction of the section Kitale – Morpus of the South Sudan Link Road. This is accompanied by measures to ensure project sustainability such as the installation of axle load control facilities to prevent overloading and a long-term maintenance contract. Apart from road rehabilitation the project features activities to promote road safety and economic development/social service delivery as well as measures to mitigate possible negative social and environmental impacts.
The project section to be rehabilitated using EU-AITF funds is located in the South of the Kenyan part of the South Sudan Link Road from the junction North of Kitale to Morpus (68 km). It will finance the construction costs (especially overload control) and consulting costs (road safety audit, supervision of environmental and social mitigation measures).