Abandoned road now a death trap for motorists

Stalled section of the Kisumu-Kakamega highway at the Mamboleo junction. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

A short section of the Kisumu-Kakamega highway whose construction stalled has become a nightmare for road users.

Accidents are being reported on the one-kilometre abandoned stretch on the dual carriageway every week, leaving several victims with life-threatening injuries.

Most accidents occur when unsuspecting motorists ram boulders erected to stop vehicles from using the incomplete road.

The situation has been worsened by the destruction caused by vandals who have left sharp metal rods used to construct the Mamboleo overpass exposed.

The road section has been at the centre of controversy since its construction was started in late 2017 but has stalled several times, with the government changing contractors twice.

And while the Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha) remains mum on the fate of the project, several residents told The Saturday Standard that the road has turned into a deathtrap for road users.

Moses Owuor is yet to recover from a leg injury he sustained after his vehicle rammed the boulders of the abandoned road.

He had travelled back to Kisumu about three weeks ago for the New Year celebrations and had believed that the road was complete as he drove towards Mamboleo.

Stalled section of the Kisumu-Kakamega highway at the Mamboleo junction. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Evading boulders

But his journey was cut short as he frantically attempted to evade the boulders to use a diversion that was created more than four years ago.

“There are no road signs to show that the road is incomplete and that there is a diversion. I was driving at night and rammed the boulders,” he said.

Last month, a boda boda operator died after a vehicle that was avoiding the barriers veered off the road and knocked him down. Last year, a motorcyclist died after falling off the cliff of the abandoned road at night.

And it seems a solution won’t be found soon. The contractor is not on site. Sources said the last time a contractor was on the road was in May last year after the government piled pressure to prepare for the Africities conference.

However, a week after guests left, the contractor pulled out and the stretch has been in a sorry state since then.

Several attempts to get comment from Kenha were futile.

Attempts by politicians to pile pressure for the completion of the road is yet to bear any fruits.

In 2020, former Kisumu West MP Olago Aluoch petitioned the National Assembly’s Departmental Committee on Transport, Public Works and Housing to fast-track completion of the abandoned stretch.

Olago said the road section was in an unmotorable state and had led to increased wear and tear of vehicles.

Stalled section of the Kisumu-Kakamega highway at the Mamboleo junction. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Members of Kisumu Boda Boda Association said that several of their members had lost their lives at the abandoned site while others had sustained injuries.

Michael Okeyo Olweny, the association’s organising secretary, said accidents take place at the section almost daily.

“That road has stalled for long and it is making our work hard. Accidents are frequent there because drivers lose control of their vehicles while trying to avoid the bad areas. Even yesterday there was an accident that led to the loss of two lives, a tuk-tuk guy and a cyclist. They were knocked down by a lorry whose driver had lost control,” he said.

In the accident, three other people sustained injuries and were rushed to hospital.

Matatu operators who form a majority of the road users who rely on the stretch to access Mamboleo and Migosi estates said the stretch had spoilt several of their vehicles.

James Omwa, the organizing secretary of Kisumu Matatu Owners Association, said some of their members had changed routes to avoid using the abandoned road.

The Standard
Make this Easter memorable with our KES999 annual offer!