Residents up in arms with Naivasha Prisons authorities over link-bridge

Area residents led by Malewa West ward, Member of County Assembly Francis Mungai Kuria at the contested bridge. [Brian Ngugi, Standard]

Naivasha residents are up in arms with the Prison’s department over the blockage of the completion of a key bridge linking two Sub-Counties and three wards.

Residents of Nyondia, Karati and Gathengera areas say despite the imminent threat of floods by the El Nino rains, the Naivasha Prisons management has hindered works at the bridge which is 80 percent complete for reasons not known to them.

Led by Malewa West ward, Member of County Assembly Francis Mungai Kuria, residents say the impasse is exposing them to insecurity, imminent tragedies or even deaths.

The bridge connecting Naivasha and Gilgil Sub-Counties has been in existence since colonial times and is being upgraded to modern standards by the County Government.

"You voted for me so that I can fight for your rights, am going to fight until the Prison Prosperity road is free for movement by the residents of Nyondia, Karati and Gathengera,” the area MCA Mr Kuria also popularly known as K5 told The Standard.

He said the County Government of Nakuru came in for the rescue and constructed the Prosperity bridge but due to some issues with the Prison Department, the bridge cannot serve the purpose.

The dispute which threatens to snowball into a bigger conflict comes at a time the Ruto administration has prioritised mobilisation of resources to mitigate the debilitating effects of heavy rainfall.

President Ruto has emphasised the government will act to secure Kenyans during the ongoing heavy rains.

“I have started opening up the road and I will fight until justice is served to ensure that the bridge will serve the purpose for which it was constructed. Our Children and parents are risking their lives when crossing the river yet we have a bridge," said the MCA.

The Standard has established that works at the colonial bridge are being done by the County Government of Nakuru for Sh6 million, but the area MCA now says the project’s completion is being frustrated by Naivasha Prisons management.

Among the reasons cited by the MCA in the interview with The Standard include a claim that the Prison Management is not aware "who authorised the work before consulting them."

Mr Kuria said that back in 1995, the Naivasha Prison's Management had decided to change or remove the road from the main prison that used to cut along the prison into two sections due to security threats and had proposed the road next to the facility.

The Standard could not immediately reach the Interior Ministry and the Commissioner General of Prisons John Warioba on the claims.

Area residents led by Malewa West ward, Member of County Assembly Francis Mungai Kuria at the contested bridge. [Brian Ngugi, Standard]

“After a while, the County decided to build a bridge of modern standards. When the Contractor was about to finish the job, the Prison's management interfered and stopped it,” said Kuria.

To date, however, there is no access through the area yet it is the main road that connects two economically important Sub-Counties and three wards.

Mr Kuria and residents said this is impacting negatively on mining activities in the area by preventing machine crashes for ballast which is among the main economic activities within the region.

Naivasha is among areas prone to floods due to its proximity to Lake Naivasha whose water levels have been rising.

In 2020, More than 1,400 residents in Kihoto and Kamere Beach were displaced following months of sustained torrential rains that caused a lake Naivasha to flood its banks. The rising levels of Lake Naivasha have been attributed to climate change.

The Government on Christmas eve warned that some regions would continue to experience substantial rains, posing risks such as injuries, fatalities due to surface run-off and mudslides in hilly areas, water pollution from fecal matter and industrial waste, and challenges in accessing facilities due to damaged roads.

The Ministry of Health stressed the need for extra precautions and provided safety tips, including avoiding crossing swollen rivers to prevent drowning and waterborne diseases.