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Japan comes to Mombassa's rescue

Tokyo: Japan has thrown a lifeline that could save the Kenyan port of Mombasa from congestion woes. ''Congestion at the port is one of the serious obstacles stifling the growth of the Kenyan economy,''said Shigeo Iwatani, the Japanese ambassador to Kenya. The Japanese Overseas Development Assistance has agreed to issue a loan of some $247 million to the Mombasa Port Development Project. The funds will be spent on the construction of a new container terminal at Port Reitz, west of the Kipevu Oil Terminal.
The new terminal is slated to ease pressure on existing facilities which currently handle some 479,000 TEUs, an incredible 97% above its maximum capacity of 250,000 TEUs.  ''The port's expansion is therefore not only beneficial to Kenya, but also the neighbouring countries and is instrumental in fostering closer economic co-operation,''said Kenya's Minister for Finance Amos Kimunya. Three phases of development have been scheduled for the project, which is due to commence in January next year and be wrapped up by 2018.
According to ambassador Iwatani, project implementation will include the hiring of a private port operator in a bid to improve services.
''By doing so, this project is expected to produce extensive ripple effects in the whole regional economy,''said Iwatani.
Meanwhile, the Japanese government has also issued a $14 million non-project grant aid to Kenya for the promotion of economic structural adjustment efforts. [22/11/07]


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