Residents of Dongo Kundu Kisiwani in Dabaso ward of Kilifi County have called for the completion of a one-kilometer wooden footbridge (board walk) that links the island to the mainland.
The about 500 residents said the stalled bridge that was being undertaken by the County Government of Kilifi had made them suffer as they move in and out of the island in search of basic amenities such as water and education for their children.
They said although they welcomed the project, it had taken up the only path they were using to cross to and from the island and its continued stalling was making life hard, especially for their children who have to cross to the mainland to the Dongokundu Primary School.
Journalists had to wade through sea water through a narrow path inside a thick mangrove forest to reach the island where residents were preparing to bury one of their own, whose body they had had to transport using speed boats through Kirepwe island.
Mr. Titus Kazungu Koi alias Tito said since the logs had been created on the water and rafters put across them, the residents’ movements had been hampered and it had become difficult and tedious to use the path.
“We have to bend down after every two meters as we wade through the path and carrying goods is almost impossible. We are appealing to our leaders to ensure that this project is completed,” said Tito.
He said that instead of the board walk, the county government should consider building a permanent footbridge in order to enable the residents to walk through with ease.
He said since there were no schools within the island, school children were forced to walk through the mangrove forest daily, a dangerous expedition since the alternative path is full of stumps that usually left them with wounds on their feet.
“All children are forced to cross to Dongokundu Primary School daily and the younger ones have to be carried by their mothers to and from the school and this is a great challenge to us,” he said.
Ms Elizabeth Kadzo Koi said apart from taking their children to school daily, women were forced to carry water containers through the same path daily since the island is faced with a severe water scarcity.
“We are appealing to the county government to either complete this project or remove the logs it has erected in the water as it has blocked our only path,” said Ms Koi adding, “Whenever we venture into the water, we come out with sores on our feet.”
She said the residents were better off without the logs and urged the county government to either remove them or build a permanent foot bridge for them, sentiments that were echoed by Elizabeth Sidi Kazungu.
Area Member of County Assembly Emmanuel Changawa confirmed that the project was launched in 2021 and was progressing well until funding was removed through a supplementary budget following the installation of a new county administration.
“This project had been allocated funds in the 2022/2023 financial year but when the new county administration came, the funds were reallocated to other projects through a supplementary budget,” he said.
He called on the County Executive Committee Member for Roads and Public Works to ensure funds are allocated for the completion of the project even as he advocated for the construction of a permanent structure.
“As a representative of the people of Dabaso and as an in my oversight role, I would like to tell the executive to ensure that all residents of Kilifi County enjoy the fruits of devolution,” he said.
By Emmanuel Masha and Redempta Gaceri