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Residents allege being shortchanged by road contractors rehabilitating Lodwar-Kitale highway

By Joan Letting | May 2nd 2018 | 3 min read
A section of the rehabilitated Lodwar-Kitale Highway. [Joan Letting/Standard]

Eighteen months ago, the journey by road to Lodwar from Kitale was agonising and frightening.

Apart from the hundreds of armed bandits who terrorised motorists plying the route, the road was rough and bumpy.

The deplorable state of the 300km road forced travellers to spend nights along the way, with buses taking up to 12 hours to get to their destination.

Small patches of tarmac were what remained to tell the story of the road that was once tarmacked in the 1980s during the era of former President Daniel Moi.

It was hoped that the script would change after Deputy President William Ruto commissioned the rehabilitation of the road in November 2016.

While comparing it to the Biblical difficult road that leads to heaven, the DP had said it was time the Turkana people enjoyed the services of a good road.

"The first phase, which will cost Sh3.2 billion, will be from Lesseru in Uasin Gishu to Amosing in Turkana County, and will cover 297kms. This road is expected to serve for over two years. Marginalisation of the Turkana people will be a thing of the past," said Ruto during the road's commissioning.

To add to their hopes, the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA), in a statement last year, said the emergency works on the road were expected to be complete by June 2018 for use in the Early Oil Pilot Scheme (EOPS).

But a month before its completion, residents are crying foul, claiming that they have been shortchanged by the contractors, who are using poor quality tarmac.

Instead of the road being the smooth carpet residents had hoped for, the completed parts are already wearing off, raising fears that the road could end up being a waste of money. The rains have peeled away the tarmac, leaving some sections worse than they were before the reconstruction. 

“It is just pathetic. KeNHA should not doubt the residents when they tell you the early oil emergency road repairs costing Sh3.2 billion won’t last a few months. Locals' knowledge is key to success,” said Governor Josphat Nanok.

“Let’s just admit that the road construction at Marich-Lokichar-Lodwar and Amosing section is a poor piece of engineering planning and safety. The Government, Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura) and KeNHA must punish road contractors for poor workmanship, quality and materials that wear out easily,” said Jennipher Nawoi, the county executive in charge of tourism,”

She said the contractors of the road had given Turkana County 'a stale cheque' yet again, noting that the road was in a bad state barely months into its construction.

Already potholed

Former Deputy Governor Peter Lokoel said the road was already potholed and the tarmac had been swept away by the rains.

KeNHA, on social media, noted that the road works were still ongoing.

“The Marich Pass-Lodwar-Nadapal (A1) Road is under the jurisdiction of KeNHA. Note, there are works being undertaken along that road. From Eldoret to Amosing, maintenance works are being undertaken to facilitate off-take of crude oil from Tullow. From Loichangamatak to Nadapal the road is being rehabilitated and upgraded,” KeNHA said.

KeNHA said the rehabilitation of the crucial northern corridor forms part of the interventions to provide transportation of crude oil.

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