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Construction of key rural roads in Coast to boost trade, tourism

By Joackim Bwana and Marion Kithi | Nov 8th 2021 | 4 min read

Transport CS James Macharia (holding the Kenyan flag) Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi and Kilifi Senator Steward Madzayo during the commissioning of the 56km Bamba-Ganze-Kilifi road in Kilifi County on November 2, 2021. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government is racing to finish the construction of rural roads at the Coast.

The roads are billed as a springboard to the development of interior parts that had been neglected for decades.

Local leaders and residents say the multi-billion shilling projects will position areas of Kilifi, Kwale and Taita Taveta at economic take-off stage.

And the popular song that ‘Safari ya Bamba ni Machero’ (The journey to Bamba is tomorrow) is being rewritten with the new infrastructure that is opening up the areas.

The song was composed following difficult access to rural Bamba in Kilifi County from the nearby Mariakani, Kilifi or Mombasa towns. A journey could take up to two days due to bad roads.

Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) is constructing the 56-kilometre Bamba-Ganze-Kilifi road at a cost of Sh2.1 billion.

Transport Cabinet Secretary Cabinet Secretary James Macharia who commissioned the construction of the road at Bamba, said already the government has instructed the Chinese firm awarded the tender to employ locals.

“The road is expected to open up this region. It will improve access to social amenities such as schools, hospitals, and markets, which will, in turn, boost the living standards through the creation of jobs and promotion of trade and investment in Ganze,” said Macharia. 

The CS was accompanied by Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi.

The road is set to be a big boost to the rural economy once completed.

It will also be linked to the 51-kilometre Mariakani-Bamba road whose construction was completed in 2017.

The government has also constructed the 100-kilometre Malindi-Sala Gate in Kilifii County to ease the movement of locals and tourists to the Tsavo East National Park.

In Taita Taveta, KeRRA has also started the construction of 54-kilometre road that will connect Mto-Mwagodi-Mbale-Wundanyi-Bura road in Taita Taveta.

The road is set to open up the agriculture-rich county to economic development.

In Kwale, KeRRA has completed the 53-kilometre Samburu-Kinango road at a cost of Sh2 billion and started working on the 23-kilometre section of the Kinango-Kwale road. 

The road serves tourists travelling between Diani Beach and Tsavo National Park and provides an alternative route from South Coast to the Mombasa-Nairobi highway at Samburu town.

KeRRA has also tarmacked the Kanana-Shimoni road in Kwale to serve tourism and the fishing sectors. It has also upgraded the Lunga Lunga-Vanga road.

Other than other multi-billion shilling projects being implemented by Kenya National Highway Authority (Kenha) and Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura), opening up roads in remote parts of the Coast has been carried out by KeRRA.

Macharia said construction of the roads will also help address famine in Ganze, the drought-prone rural area in Kilifi, by enhancing transport services and boosting the local economy.

“We have given the tender to a Chinese contractor and they promised to complete it in three years as we had asked them,” the CS said.

Ganze residents have for many years been grappling with transport challenges due to poor impassible roads especially during rainy seasons.

Kanze Charo, a resident of Bamba said: “I lost my baby in 2008 because I was unable to get to Kilifi District Hospital on time since the road was poor. I hope such a thing never happens to any other person.”

Amos Kazungu, a resident of Bamba, said they have been waiting for the road to be constructed for a long time and they are happy the project has been launched.

Governor Amason Kingi asked the contractor to make every effort and ensure the road is completed on time.

“This is an important road in this region. It will boost tourism and agriculture, especially in Ganze when complete,” said the governor.

KeRRA is also building bridge at Baricho in Kilifi County at a cost of Sh2.5 billion.

The bridge will help the residents who have been risking their lives while crossing the Galana river which is infested by crocodiles and hippos.

Local site engineer Sammy Tangus said that the bridge will help Galana residents take their fruits produce to the market.

“During the low tides, people were crossing but the river has crocodiles,” said Tangus. “This was a very difficult part to cross especially during the rainy season.”

Julius Mramba, a resident of Baricho, said the bridge will help the locals cross safely and access Mombasa and Malindi.

“When crossing this river, we risk our lives because there are crocodiles and hippos in the water. We recently lost a man to a crocodile,” said Mramba.

CS Macharia commissioned the Bamba-Ganze-Kilifi and the Mto-Mwagodi-Mbale-Wundanyi-Bura roads last week when he inspected infrastructural projects in the Coast region.

During the commissioning of the Taita Taveta road, Governor Granton Samboja and Senator Johnes Mwaruma said they pushed for the project through former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Senator Mwaruma termed the road a perfect gift for the county that had been sidelined for decades.

“The only tarmac road that touches Wundanyi by only one kilometre was built in 1972 under the stewardship of former MP Danson Mwanyumba,” said Mwaruma. 

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