The construction of a Sh5 Billion road through Baringo and Laikipia counties will be a game-changer to Baringo residents and open up the region whose potential over the years has remained unexploited.
Julius Yegon, 45, a resident of Sinoni village in Baringo South said tarmacking of the road that traverses Marigat town in Baringo south to Karandi in Laikipia County- is a dream come true for the locals who had to struggle with the harsh terrain and rocky road.
For Yegon, the tarmac road snaking its way through their village is the first, thanks to the 100 kilometer stretch of road whose construction started in July 2017.
Fifty-five kilometres of the road is in Baringo and another 43 in Laikipia County.
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The road passes through Loitip, Sirata, Chemorongion, Arabal, Kasiela among other villages in Baringo South. The project is funded by the National Government under Kenya Rural Roads Authority.
Baringo Senator Gideon Moi has been at the forefront pushing for the construction of the road that had stalled for years.
“We never expected such a road will cut across our village and some of us were shocked when heavy machinery landed here. Finally, in May the road reached here,” Yegon said.
Senator Gideon in January had promised the locals that he will engage Kenya Rural Roads Authority and have key road projects in the region prioritized and budgeted for. This followed a plea by the locals to have him intervene.
Though 58 per cent complete the village elder said they have already started feeling its positive impact wishing it would have come earlier.
Initially, the road was impassable and Sinoni village residents wishing to access Marigat had to use motorcycles paying at least Sh4, 000 to cover a distance of over 130 kilometers to and from their homes.
Coupled with insecurity, the locals said they preferred staying in their homes rather than using the road.
Expectant mothers he said would be ferried using donkeys 10 kilometers to the nearest health centers.
Cheptoo Kimalel an ECDE teacher said with the construction of the road cattle rustling has reduced. Security personnel he said have since been able to respond to staged bandit attacks.
Locals he said feared using the route to Kabarnet through Marigat.
"We had to go through Nakuru, Laikipia a distance of over 200 kilometers. We happy now that we can access our homes in Baringo using the shortest route,” he said.
Nikson Kipruto, a trader and resident of Kabel said he has been using the road for two years. During the rainy season the road he said they had to spend the whole day on the road.
He said he can now transport his goods to the market easily. Government officials on Thursday made a tour to assess the project. Baringo County Commissioner Henry Wafula accompanied by Regional Director President Delivery Unit Truphosa Awuor and other county officials and contractors were in the area.
Wafula said the county development committee which he chairs in the region wanted to know the challenges. He said the road is of economic importance to the locals of Baringo."Our officers will be able to respond each time they get distress calls from the locals. Business will also thrive and livestock trade will get a boost," Wafula said.
He said the road will also provide access to major tourist attraction sites and conservancies in the region.
Ms Awuor on her part lauder the contractor who despite the hard terrain managed to get the right levels and design. She said quality work has been done.
"This road is not only important to the people of Baringo but was the missing link to the entire Rift Valley. It will connect the counties of Turkana, Elgeiyo Marakwet, Trans Nzoia to Laikipia," she said. She said though the period of completion had lapsed she had met the contractor who was very willing to have the project completed.
The nature of the road and terrain she said had made it difficult for the contractor to complete the project in good time. With the swelling lakes, she said the contractor has been forced to go back to the drawing board and find ways of navigating his way out. She said in the next one they will ensure the project will have been completed.