The government is fast-tracking land acquisition and compensation along the Sh18.4 billion Kibwezi-Kitui road project to enable the contractor wind up works in time and avoid project disputes.
Similarly, obstructions by power lines, structures, budgetary constraints and litigation by encroachers on the road reserve is derailing the works launched in September 2016.
Speaking on Thursday during a County Development Implementation Coordination Committee tour of the road, area County Commissioner John Ondego allayed landowners’ fears of losing their land saying the land has been gazetted and due compensation will be made by the government.
He assured landowners affected by the Wikililye – Syongila bypass that the government was working swiftly to ensure due compensation for their plots of land on which the contractor has already started the roadworks.
“The National Land Commission (NLC) is finalising the compensation plans for all affected landowners. We appreciate their patience and support by allowing the contractor to proceed with the project pending payment,” said the commissioner.
Ondego said that the contractor has submitted a cost of Sh 3.8 billion Migwani-Mbondoni section that will connect vital government institutions and towns to the new road that is estimated to take 18 months once awarded.
“The contractor has been involved in various corporate social responsibility activities geared towards providing residents with portable water, improvement of access roads and enhancing learning and playing environment in schools along the project road,” said the County Commissioner.
Ondego noted that once the road is completed, it will spur economic activities along the highway and open up areas in remote areas to allow farmers to access improved transport for their produce to the market.
“This road will open up Kitui County and in itself invite investors in various sectors such as mining, cement factories among others. This will jolt this county into an investment hub, create employment for over 200, 000 unemployed youth and kick out poverty,” noted the administrator.
He called for patience among land owners that the government will pay in time and appreciated their gesture to vacate their land allowing the contractor early entry so that the project runs without hitches.
The locals had earlier this month staged demonstrations to protest the ongoing roadworks claiming that the State was planning to deprive them of their land.
They had vowed not to vacate their pieces of land until the government compensates them fully.
However, anti-riot police officers engaged them in running battles as road construction equipment swung into action flattening houses, structures and felling trees to pave way for the roadworks.
By Yobesh Onwong’a