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Save us from this dusty road, Bungoma traders demand

WESTERN
By Micah Sali | November 18th 2021

A section of the Sh1.3 billion stalled Musikoma - Kanduyi dual carriage way project in Bungoma County. [Courtesy]

A cloud of dust is suspended in the air before some of it soon gets into the 14–seater matatu driving into Bungoma town.

The residents, including motorists and traders, blame the massive dust on the stalled Musikoma – Kanduya dual carriage road connecting Bungoma and Kanduyi towns.

Governor Wycliffe Wangamati launched the construction work on the Sh1.1 billion 6.4-kilometre stretch in 2018. But the contractor has not completed the road, partly due to cash flow challenges.

“It has become an eyesore. We expected the road to ease the flow of traffic in the town and enhance business, but that was never to be,” said Selphar Makokha, a resident.

The vegetable vendor said she always had it rough at her kiosk near the Bungoma bus park. “When it rains, the dust becomes mud, making the road impassable,” she told The Standard.

Philip Wanyonyi, a resident of Khalaba Ward, said the delayed completion of the dual carriageway had affected economic activities. “Several smaller businesses have been shut down or relocated as a result of the excavations and the diversion of the drainage system,” he said.

Wanyonyi said residents did not know when the contractor would complete the project. “No one has bothered to explain to us what the arrangement is since the project was launched three years ago,” he said.

Wanyonyi says the state of the road has increased accidents “...because the dust sometimes makes it hard for motorists to see properly.”

He claims some locals have contracted airborne diseases because of the dust, while others are maimed. “Those who own motorbikes, tuk tuks and other motorists have incurred huge costs in terms of wear and tear. Besides, there are no traffic signs and a signpost to indicate who the contractor is, the actual cost of the project or time frame,” he said.

Andrew Juma, a boda boda rider in the town, said he was happy the road had started to take shape, albeit sluggishly. Francis Masinde, another boda boda rider, said once complete, the road would guarantee good business. Bungoma Roads Executive Collins Mukhongo said he had received complaints from many residents.

Mr Mukhongo said the county government had been sourcing funds to help complete the works.

He allayed fears that the works could be delayed further. “We are in the final stage of laying the tarmac on the road, and it must be complete in just two months,” said Mukhongo.

He said the delay was since the budget-making process faced challenges at the Assembly. “The County Assembly was to pass the budget in May, but the process was politicised and dragged till September.

He said the construction works were halted to avoid costs soaring before the budget process was completed and allocations made.

“When a contractor puts in a payment certificate, we need to have money available to pay him within 30 days,” he said.

Mukhongo said delays in the budget-making process also messed paying of county government staff. “Our county staff missed salaries for three months because of the delay in the budget-making process,” he said.

According to Mukhongo, the contractor returned to the site in October after getting approvals from the Controller of the Budget.

“We are determined to complete the works in the shortest time possible. The stretch between Bungoma bus park and Kenya Medical Training College will be done between today and Friday,” he said.

Mukhongo said the road would have street lights and proper markings to avert accidents and enhance the safety of road users.

Once complete, the dual carriage road will boost transport and trade. 

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