The Kitui County Commissioner (CC), John Ondego has warned all landowners who encroached onto the Kalundu-Mutune road reserve to vacate and pave way for the construction of the ongoing Kibwezi-Kitui Highway.
Speaking on Wednesday in Kitui, Ondego said the road reserve was demarcated in the 1970s, adding that due diligence should have been taken by the landowners before putting up their structures.
“This should serve as notice to all landowners whose settlements are on the road corridor to vacate immediately. The road reserve according to the initial plan is 40 metres. Those within the range let them pull down their houses,’ he said.
The County Chief directed the Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) Regional Manager, Eng. Mbavu Sayo to liaise with other service providers such as Kenya Power and Kitui Water and Sanitation Company (KITWASCO) whose utilities lie within the reserve to remove their infrastructure.
“We do not want disruption of services during the construction period with complaints from residents lacking water or electricity. Those services should be re-routed well in advance before construction commences in the area,” said Ondego.
He called on KeRRA to hold sensitization meeting with the locals along the affected 2 kilometre stretch before moving into the area to ensure all parties were brought on board.
Separately, landowners along the Kitui Town-Syongila Bypass will receive their compensation as soon as the payment schedule is released to the National Land Commission from Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA).
However, despite the hiccup, the ongoing construction of Sh.18.4 billion Kibwezi-Kitui road is ahead of schedule with 80% of total works completed, added the County Commissioner.
Ondego said that so far over 135 km of the entire stretch on the highway have been covered adding that the 42 month contract road is set to be completed on February 15, 2021 with an 85% financing from China’s Exim Bank and 15% from the Government of Kenya.
The administrator lamented on resistance of land owners who have encroached on the road reserve despite efforts to appeal to them to move their properties out of the road reserve that was surveyed in 1973.
“Land acquisition process is on-going, adding that those that have encroached on the road reserves are derailing the project that has timelines and financial implications should it stall in some parts,” noted Ondego.
Ondego disclosed that the road is expected to offer alternative route from the Port of Mombasa to the Lower, Upper Eastern Regions and Ethiopia hence, decongesting the Nairobi-Mombasa Highway and improve the economic competitiveness of lower eastern counties.
By Yobesh Onwong’a