Residents of Ganze constituency in Kilifi County are celebrating the first ever stretch of tarmac following the completion of the 45-kilometre Mariakani-Bamba road at a cost of Sh.2.1 billion.
The road whose construction was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2016 starts at the Mariakani-Kaloleni road junction ending up at Bamba trading centre in Kilifi.
The tarmacking of the road is among projects being implemented by the national government through the Kenya Rural Roads Authority’s 10,000 low volume seal roads programme.
The remote outpost of Bamba is immortalized by the song ‘Safari ya Bamba ni machero’ which was composed to bemoan the hitherto desolate condition of the road.
Residents contend the song composed in the 60s showed how difficult it was at the time to travel outside Bamba because of the bad state of the road.
The road construction has brought feverish excitement to the faces of many residents and road users.
Excited residents interviewed by Kenya News Agency on Friday contend that a tarmac road that they never thought they would see in their lifetime has finally come to fruition.
Those interviewed said it was a historic day for them as they have waited for the construction of the vital road for 55 years.
An elder said the newly tarmacked road will greatly improve economic activities and fortunes of the residents in a big way.
He said traveling between Bamba and Mariakani Township along the Mombasa-Nairobi highway would be a lot easier shorter and smooth due to the motorable condition of the new tarmac road.
A lorry driver Ali Ross said the time used in traveling between Bamba and Mariakani has now become short due to the improved status of the road.
Ms. Kadzo Charo a local cereal trader said with the road upgrade, traders and farmers will now be able to take their produce to the market on time and in good condition.
Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) Kilifi County Regional Manager, Eng. Benson Masila who led journalists on an inspection tour of the road ahead of the official commissioning ceremony noted that a sound road infrastructure plays a vital role in the national economy.
He said the Bamba-Mariakani road and the tarmacking of the six km Kilifi-Kiwandani and 1.5 km of SGR access road will help improve connectivity and reduce travel time in the region.
He identified other on-going low volume seal road projects as the 36 km Marikebuni-Marafa road and the 117 km Malindi-Sala gate road at a total cost of Sh. 5.6 billion.
The construction of the Malindi-Sala gate road project at a cost of Sh.4.1 billion is key to the revival of tourism as it links the tourist resort town of Malindi to the Tsavo East National Park in Taita Taveta County.
“The 117 km Malindi-Sala gate road is 70 percent complete while the 36 km Marikebuni-Marafa road is 30 percent complete”, said Eng. Masila adding that they are so far satisfied with the progress of work.
He said in the low volume seal road projects the government’s intention was to upgrade rural road networks to all weather bitumen standards while reducing the costs.
The KeRRA Regional official said the contractors are working round the clock to deliver the projects within the time-frame and in accordance with ‘our specifications and engineering standards’.
Eng. Masila said the ongoing infrastructure upgrades in Kilifi was part of the government’s plan of tarmacking 10,000 km of roads to offer transport solution across the country noting that 6,000 such low volume seal roads have so far been completed across the country.
He expressed confidence in the ability of the infrastructural projects to turn around the economic fortunes of rural communities and by extension make life more comfortable by bringing services to the people at the grassroots.
He stressed that the government is keen to see timely completion of roads, warning that any contractor whose work is not satisfactory would be blacklisted.
“As KeRRA we will not hesitate to cancel any contract or accept excuses from any contractor for non-performance”, he warned.
By Hussein Abdullahi