(Supported by a Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities)
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Ports Kenya's extensive transport system accommodates travel by road, rail, coastal and inland water and air. Full container-handling facilities are in operation at Mombasa, the chief port, handling a volume of containers that expanded from 50,000 20-ft equivalent units (TEU) in 1982 to nearly 103,000 TEU in 1985. An up-to-date container-handling operation opened in 1983; and the country's first inland clearance depot for containers began operating at Embakasi near Nairobi in 1984. Mombasa provides access to the Indian Ocean for several land-locked countries and regions in East Africa, including Uganda, eastern Zaire, Burundi and Rwanda. Unfortunately, Mombasa's port efficiency has declined in recent years due to over-staffing and poor productivity; it is also experiencing increased competition from the modernized facilities in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Airways Kenya Airways has operated an independent national and international air service since the break-up of East African Airlines in 1977. International airports at Nairobi and Mombasa handled over 2.52 million commercial passengers and some 61,900 tons of freight in 1988. Provisional figures for 1990 show that the number of passengers and the amount of freight has risen to 2.65 million and 66,400 tons respectively. In addition to these locations, airports at Malindi, Kisumu and Embakasi are capable of handling international traffic. Rural areas are served by hundreds of airstrips. In 1986 a private air company founded African Express Airways Kenya Limited to transport horticultural products to Europe as well as to work routes not already covered by the national airline. In December 1994, a third international airport was underway at Eldoret in the Rift Valley Province under a KSh3.7bn ($66 million) contract. The project was not, however, popular with donors, who were under-informed about the project's course even shortly before the official announcement of construction plans. In mid-1995, the plan was scaled down because of problems securing external financing. Despite these problems, the first flight landed in November 1996. Since then, authorities have failed to secure commitments from airlines for the regular use of the airport.

The national carrier, Kenya Airways (KA), was the first African airline to be privatized. A ceremony held in Nairobi in January 1996 marked the sale of 26% of the company's shares to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. Airline staff have 3% of equity, while 34% has been sold through the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) to Kenyan interests. International investors have acquired a 14% stake, and the government retains 23%.

Railways The Kenya Railways Corporation operates about 1,937 km of railway tracks, including the principal line from Mombasa through Nairobi, and on to western Kenya and to points in Tanzania and Uganda. The railroad system is meter-gauge and virtually all single-track. A three-year project to improve Kenya Railways Corporation's operation, whose primary aim was to increase the railway's competitiveness in the freight market, was launched in 1987.

Roads Kenya's road system consists of 8,621 km of bituminous roads, 26,000 km of gravel roads and 28,406 km of unpaved roads. Most roads, including the main arterials in the cities, are in poor shape. Roads linking the coast with the interior are in particularly poor shape due to overloading and poor maintenance of vehicles. A network of bus and minibus services covers the whole country, but service to rural areas remains rudimentary. A 590-km road between Lodwar and Juba, in Southern Sudan, providing the first all-weather road link between the two countries, has been completed. A rebuilding project, whose goal is to improve 175 km of Kenyan roads along the `northern corridor,' aims to improve access between land-locked regions and the port in Mombasa. [1]

Statistical indicators: (by 1000's unless otherwise indicated)







RAIL: Passenger traffic (no.):






RAIL: Freight (000 tons):






ROAD: New motor vehicles (no.)






SHIPPING: Freight handled at Mombasa harbor 1000 tons






Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit, 1998, Country Profile. Kenya, The Unit: London, p. 44.

total: 2,652 km
narrow gauge: 2,652 km 1.000-m gauge

total: 63,800 km
paved: 8,868 km
unpaved: 54,932 km (1996 est.)

Waterways: part of the Lake Victoria system is within the boundaries of Kenya

Pipelines: petroleum products 483 km

Ports and harbors: Kisumu, Lamu, Mombasa

Merchant marine:
total: 2 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 4,883 GRT/6,255 DWT
ships by type: oil tanker 1, roll on/roll off 1 (1997 est.)

Airports: 240 (1997 est.)

Airports–with paved runways:
total: 29
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 22
under 914 m: 1 (1997 est.)

Airports–with unpaved runways:
total: 211
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 13
914 to 1,523 m: 114
under 914 m: 83 (1997 est.)

Source: CIA World Fact Book

[1] 1992. Africa South of the Sahara, p. 446.

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