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Multi-billion road projects bring security, joy and development to North Rift counties

Ongoing civil works for the laying of a fiber optic cable along the Eldoret - Lokichar - Nakodok National Trunk Road. [KeNHA, Twitter]

Over the last 10 years, the Jubilee government has initiated multi-billion shilling projects aimed at transforming the North Rift region and boosting the local economy.

Although some residents feel the government could have done better for a region that overwhelmingly supported President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2013 and 2017, the already executed infrastructure projects, especially roads, have become a game-changer.

Among the roads that have been built over the period include the 60 km Eldoret– Webuye Road bypass, which was completed at a cost of Sh5.2 billion and covers the Kabuchai and Kesses areas.

The 34 km Kabenes – Kachibora Road, which covers the Soy and Moiben areas, cost the administration Sh1.3 billion and has enabled farmers to easily ferry their produce to the markets.

Thomas Mutai, a maize farmer in Moiben, said the road has enabled ease of transportation of goods and services and access to town centres.

“The good road prompted me to buy a car that I use to ferry my maize to the cereals board every year. Today, travelling to Eldoret only takes us about 40 minutes when before the poor, dilapidated roads would take almost two hours to get to town,” said Mutai.

The county has also witnessed the rehabilitation of the 73 km Timboroa – Eldoret Road in the Ainabkoi/Kesses area, which was completed at Sh3.57 billion.

Other roads that are in the pipeline include the Soy – Kipsangui – Kabenes Road in the Turbo area, the Bugar – Chebiemit Road, the Naiberi – Sergoit – Moiben/Marura Road.

In Turkana county, residents have lauded the ongoing construction of the 338 km road from Lokichar to Nakodok, at the Kenya-South Sudan border, which is being undertaken through Kenya National Highways Authority at a cost of Sh38 billion, for boosting security and development.

Under the Eastern Africa Regional Transport, Trade and Development Facilitation Project (EATTDFP), residents enjoy fast transportation from Eldoret to Nadapal (border of Kenya and South Sudan) via the modern A1 road that includes a fibre optic cable.

The road, which includes critical bridges like Kainuk and Kawalase in Turkana, has resolved the perennial deaths and loss of property caused by flooding at the two bridges during rainy seasons.

John Too, a truck driver based in Lodwar, said the improved road has also helped to address insecurity by reducing the time taken for security officers to respond to  incidents.

“In the past, bandits would ambush travellers on those spots where the road was in bad condition because vehicles moved at slow speed,” said Too.

Today, the new tarmac road – also known as ‘South Sudan Link Road’ – entails the upgrade of 514 km stretch of road from Kitale to Lokichogio in North-West Kenya in Turkana County.

In Uasin Gishu, the county recently announced it had made strides in improving road connectivity in most rural areas at a cost of Sh102 million.

County Roads, Transport and Public Works Executive Gideon Birir said the county has managed to construct nine bridges and box culverts. Seven of them are complete and handed over for use.

He said the connectivity programmes are part of efforts to open up new agricultural productive areas and enable farmers to access markets for their produce.

Birir noted that besides opening up new areas for production, road accessibility will help in the industrialisation and overall development of the county.

Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) CEO, Dr Wilson Aruasa, said the government has fully funded various multi-million shillings projects supporting the second-largest referral hospital in the country.

“We have an outpatient complex that houses Consultant Clinics, Emergency Department, MTRH offices, Moi University School of Medicine offices and classrooms, tutorial rooms and MTRH/ Moi University Institutional Research and Ethics Committee (IREC). This was constructed at Sh 1 billion. Other resources including the Regional Laboratory & Isolation Ward, private wing and a radiation bunker have been constructed and completed over time,” said Aruasa.

According to PSCU, the national government transferred Sh15.90 billion to Uasin Gishu County from 2013 to January 2017.

In December, Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago together with the Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Kenya, Katrin Hageman commissioned Sh173 million Kimumu/Bahati fresh produce wholesale market.

The market is now serving over 2,000 traders across the county. The market is fitted with 10 cold rooms for the preservation and storage of produce.

Some flagship projects in the region are incomplete, leaving billions of public funds in a limbo. The Sh600 million Kipchoge Keino stadium located near Eldoret Town is also pending completion.

The controversial Arror and Kimwarer dams in Elgeyo Marakwet which were meant to open up irrigation and water supply to the counties of Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot are still a pain in the flesh to the residents of the North Rift region.

Arror and Kimwarer multipurpose dams were to be constructed at an inflated cost of Sh63 billion, with the former costing Sh35 billion and the latter Sh28 billion.

President Uhuru Kenyatta in September 2019 directed the immediate commencement of the implementation of the Arror Dam project but in a scaled-down cost and design.

He said the Arror project costs will be reduced to Sh15.4 billion and ordered the cancellation of Kimwarer Dam as he received a report from a technical committee.

But the construction of the dam is yet to commence, casting doubts if the project will continue at all.

KVDA Chief Executive Officer Sammy Naporos said the authority would embark on the implementation of the water project as soon as it is given the go-ahead.

“Communication on the same (revival of Arror Dam) is yet to be directed to us. The project remains suspended for now,” said Naporos.

In Nandi, residents in the agricultural zone are still languishing with a poor road network that is supposed to open up remote parts of Tindiret, Chsumei and Mosop sub-counties.

The 54-kilometre road that cuts through the hilly Tindiret region between Kobere market in Nandi and Eldoret-Nakuru highway is not yet completed two years after the timeline elapsed.

According to David Rotich, a farmer, the Sh1.2 billion project was launched in 2017, and it was expected to have been completed by 2020.