Sara Mueni has sold vegetables and fruits in Kibwezi Town for almost 10 years.
However, her greatest challenge has been exorbitant transport costs from the Kwa-Kyai irrigation farms, where she gets tomatoes, onions, carrots, oranges, cabbages and mangoes.
She explains that due to bad roads, she used to spend over Sh400 for the 25km journey to the farm.
But Sara and other traders are now relieved following the near completion of the Kibwezi-Kitui Road.
The 119km road is being tarmacked by Sinohydro Company that won the Sh18.4 billion tender. The construction was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2016.
The farmers from River Athi and Kwa-Kyai farms say the road is a great breakthrough in transporting their farm products to not only nearby towns but also Nairobi and beyond.
“We have waited for the tarmacking of this road for many years. During this time, it was very difficult transporting our produce from farms to markets. Most of our produce would rot in the farms as vehicles avoided the bad road. We are happy it is finally being done,” says Mark Musyoki, a farmer in Kwa-Kyai farms.
Sara says she now spends Sh200 to transport her goods from the farm. This is half the amount she used to spend before the road was upgraded.
She explains: “Transporting produce from the farms now cost less because many vehicle operators are now willing to go to the farms. Initially, they declined citing bad roads that damaged their vehicles.”
Kazungu Mwamburi says the new road will ease movement even for those using the Standard Gauge Railway train, which makes stops in Kibwezi town.
“The new road is also bound to enhance tourism due to its strategic placement in relation to both Tsavo national parks and Kitui South game reserve,” says Mwamburi.
Kibwezi Assistant County Commissioner Vitalis Ogur praised the national government for the project, saying it will now be easy to respond to urgent matters concerning security.
The road has also opened access to the Dwa-Rea Vipingo sisal estate that has over 1,000 employees.
Currently, the contractor is erecting a modern inter-change where the road connects the Nairobi-Mombasa highway that will reduce accidents at the junction, as has been the case in the past.
Mr Ogur said the new road would also connect Kenys and Ethiopia through Isiolo once complete.
Pius Nyamu, a public service vehicle operator on the Okutha-Kibwezi-Makindu-Wote route, said the new road had led to faster movement and minimised vehicle maintenance cost.