Expert Review of the North Corridor Transit and Transport Agreement
The World Bank, under the Africa Transport Policy Program(SSATP) appointed Mr. Godfrey M.Onyango – a Transport and Infrastructure Specialist and Samuel Mayanja – a highly experienced Ugandan Lawyer and Partner at Kampala Associated Advocates, to review and update the North Corridor Transit and Transport Agreement.
The Northern Corridor is a multi modal transport corridor that links Kenya’s Mombasa Port to hinterland countries of Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC). It’s a conduit of these countries’ intra and overseas trade.
In order to streamline operations along the corridor, and avoid inconvenience due to multiplicity of bilateral agreements, the corridor hinterland countries, together with Kenya, the coastal state, decided to write a comprehensive multilateral agreement – The Northern Corridor Transit Agreement which was concluded in 1985 and came into force in 1986 upon ratification by the four contracting states – Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Burundi. The DRC would later in 1987 accede to the Agreement and thus become the Fifth contracting party.
This Agreement was given a validity period of 10 years which was later extended by another 10 years. Thereafter, a revised agreement – the Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Agreement (NCTTA) was signed in 2007. In 2012, South Sudan acceded to this agreement becoming Sixth contracting party.
Unlike the initial agreement which only dealt with transit transport, the 2007 agreement added new aspects, such as inter-state transport and the transformation of the corridor into a development corridor, private sector investment promotion and infrastructure development and management.
The two experts, in a ” Draft Final Report ” seen by The Legal Reports, have identified several “gaps” in the current Agreement and have proposed a raft of changes thereto.
” The current provisions in the Agreement and in particular Protocol No.5 on transport by rail had envisaged only the use of the existing Kenya-Uganda metre gauge rail network and didn’t cater for the development and use of new networks such as the Standard Gauge Railway(SGR) which is planned to link Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and DRC” the Report reads in part.
The experts want contracting states to decide whether the Standard Gauge Railway will be the standard rail network.
” Inorder to facilitate rail connectivity along the Northern Corridor, there’s need for member states to pronounce themselves on whether SGR is the adopted standard so that it is clearly reflected in the revised agreement” the Report further reads.
The experts also propose the granting of access rights to Cross Border Companies.
” The provisions in the current agreement do not envisage a situation where the permanent way can be provided by one agency/company while rail operations are provided by several rail companies, some being cross border. The protocol on Rail transport should provide for the granting of access rights for cross border companies ”
On Pipeline transport, the experts say the provisions of the current agreement only envisaged the extension for the existing pipeline for refined products from Kenya to the other countries.
” With existence of Oil in Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan, there will be need to enhance the Protocol on pipeline transport to include cooperation in the development and operation of Crude Oil Pipelines for export” the Report states in part.
The Experts also criticised the contracting states to the Agreement over ” little collective effort” to enhance protection of the environment. To this, they proposed a separate Protocol on the mitigation of negative effects of transport and infrastructure development as well as Climate Change.
The Report will undergo a review by Member States and NCTTCA Secretariat and member states will have to ratify the the amended Agreement for it to form part of their domestic law.
Download a Copy of the Agreement here.