Uhuru’s bumpy ride has key road repaired

The 200-metre stretch on Kakamega Road in Kisumu County, which has remained incomplete for over five years in this picture taken on Sunday. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

 A drive between Mamboleo junction and Mamboleo market offers a glimpse of what could be the worst road in Kisumu. 

The road has been neglected for more than two decades despite its significance to the sugar belt region as authorities continue to turn a blind eye to its gaping potholes.

Last Thursday, President Uhuru Kenyatta who experienced the road for the second time in over a year ordered Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to ensure it is built.

The 63-kilometre stretch running through Chemelil, Miwani and Kibos to join the Kisumu-Kakamega Road at the Mamboleo junction traverses three major sugar millers and has been in bad shape for more than 20 years.

Built in the early 60s, the road has become impassable and public service vehicles abandoned it, leaving tractors and motorbikes as the only means of transport for residents.

President’s motorcade

Hours before the president’s motorcade used the road on their way to the Mamboleo showground where the Jomo Kenyatta Stadium is being built, authorities made frantic efforts to murram part of it in vain.

The dust from the road even forced a happy president, who had been waving to locals from the roof of his vehicle, to retreat.

“We cannot have such a road to serve an international stadium. The road must be repaired,” said the president.

Past attempts by locals to compel the government to tarmac the road, including planting bananas on it have borne little fruit, with locals even forced to use their own resources to maintain the road.

Stephen Odhiambo, a matatu driver, said they have been spending a fortune to repair matatus plying the route.

“The loss falls on us each and every day. We have not seen a single contractor on the road,” said Odhiambo.

Wycliffe Oricho, a local, said a section of leaders has been using the road to “fetch votes from residents”.

“The road is only remembered when leaders visit this area,” he said, adding that when the works begin the contractor should engage locals so that they can also gain from it.

Ndugu Transporters Limited Company’s manager Albert Aketch said the dilapidated road has cost locals time and money.

The company that is located along Mamboleo Road last year partnered with several other private companies to put the road into a motorable state.

“I cannot remember the last time a government machine came to work on the road,” said Aketch, adding that cries about the poor state of the road made them join hands to improve it.

Last week’s visit by the president, however, brings a sigh of relief to locals, a few months after Treasury also approved rehabilitation of the road.