The pain of living in Eastlands, Nairobi

Donholm residents struggle to find a path to the main Outer Ring road as they go about their daily business. (Photo: Jenipher Wachie/Standard)

Construction of Outer Ring Road has presented myriad challenges for Donholm residents

Although a blessing, the expansion of Outer Ring Road into a complex eight-lane highway has come with its fair share of challenges.

Donholm residents must wade through muddy pathways to get to the main road. They admit that the project will solve the traffic challenge in the area, but wish the contractor had provided an alternative route for them to use while construction continues.

“We have to use a muddy ditch to get to the stage where we take our matatus from. The situation is worse for the dawn commuters who use the roads just after the rains,” complained Ann Atieno, a resident.

Business owners are incurring huge losses as customers have been avoiding certain areas. Furniture shops are displaying their products inside water-filled trenches, while motorists and lorries park on the roadside, causing heavy traffic.

Another resident, Prisca Mang’ari, said: “I just damaged my shoe walking in this mess. The other day, a stone slid down and hurt my toe. Why can’t they provide another route?”

Ms Mang’ari, who was commuting from Manyanja Road to Lunga Lunga Road, said it now takes her an hour more using the only possible route to get to work. She also said the meandering pathway that runs through ditches where the roads are supposed to be built pose a security risk for residents.

“It is not possible to escape an attack here. The stagnant water and the mushy rifts cannot allow you to escape,” she added.

A shoe cleaner who saw a business opportunity presented from the muddy paths however sees no problem with the road.

“We are patient. A little exercise then you come and have your shoes cleaned before you get to work,” said Sabbas Muli.

Mr Muli, who sits at the end of the muddy path with his bucket of water and a piece of mattress said he was looking at the end result. He provides his services to distressed passers-by from as early as 6am.

The road project, which has been ongoing for close to two years, is expected to end in August. An alternative route has since been dug up, leaving residents with no option but to use the construction site.

Keziah Wanjiru, a supervisor at the site, admitted that the project posed many risks for residents, but asked them to bear with the challenges as it would soon be completed.

“The stones are shot while digging the holes, so they get scattered. If anyone is walking by at that time, they could be hit, although we always divert them so they don’t come too close,” she said.

Ms Wanjiru also said the project had to take up the alternative route that was earlier provided but they were working on clearing another path.

The road works, launched in January 2015 and being handled by a Chinese contractor, SinoHydro Corporation, passes through a densely populated area where many are forced to endure huge inconveniences.