The road that connects Thika Superhighway to Nairobi-Nakuru road known as Thika-Maungu-Flyover has deteriorated over the years, to the chagrin of the users and residents of the areas.
Sections of the road now have deep, ever-widening potholes that are both an eyesore and an inconvenience to motorists.
The 81.6 kilometre road is an artery that connects the town of Thika to rich farmlands in Nyandarua and Nakuru counties. It serves as an important and convenient connection between Thika and Naivasha in Nakuru County, as well as Magumu region in Nyandarua County.
But what is supposed to be a convenient and shorter option for people travelling from Nakuru and Naivasha towns to Thika has slowly given way to a pothole-saddled a air that poses a menace to those travelling through the region.
The fact that the road cuts through acres of dense Gatamayu Forest Nature Reserve, does not help matters.
Now, youths from different parts along the road have taken up the task of filling up some of the gaping holes, providing brief but much-needed relief for motorists.
“The youths scoop soil from the roadsides and use it to fill the potholes,” said Ms Velicinah Mukami, a resident of Kirasha junction in Kinare Ward, Kiambu County. “Their work is very helpful to motorists, as it reduces the swaying and rattling of vehicles in heavily potholed areas.”
A resident of the region for more than 16 years, Ms Mukami has seen it all. The road, she says, has been carpeted three times in the 16 years, but its recent deterioration has been most profound. “We keep seeing repair works on this road from time to time,” she informed this writer. “The most recent repairs were conducted about two years ago.”
The worst part of the road, according to Ms Mukami, is at Kianjugu, about 17 kilometres from Kirasha junction, a region tucked deep in the densely wooded Kamae forest.
Recalling a recent inconvenience wrought by the road’s deplorable state, Ms Mukami noted that a snarl-up developed a few days past when a truck stalled along the road.
Motorists endured a six-hour traffic jam as they could not maneuver their cars on either side of the truck, due to gaping potholes.
“We occasionally find vehicles overturned, deep in the woods, or others lean dangerously when unable to negotiate some of the deeper potholes.”
In public transport, driving normally, the journey from the Flyover junction to Thika would take between an hour and one and a half hours when the road was smooth. The journey now takes upwards of two hours, according to Ms Mukami.
She admitted that the road gets better from Gakoe onwards to Thika. But the stretch between the Flyover junction and Gakoe is a driver’s nightmare.
The challenges posed by the road, other than the painfully long journey, include a spiraling cost of maintenance for vehicles, due to the ravages of the potholes on vehicle suspensions and other parts.
The road has further presented a security problem in the past, as thugs take advantage of the potholes to waylay and rob motorists.
“Thugs become a problem particularly in the months of October through to December,” noted Ms Mukami. “They flag you down with ease, just when your vehicle is wiggling its way out of some of the deeper potholes.”
She noted that President Uhuru Kenyatta drove through the region earlier in the year, in a visit that sparked locals’ hopes that the government would embark on repairs for the road. This has not come to pass, though.