Residents of Kilimambogo area in Thika East Sub County have called on the government to fast-track tarmacking of the Ol Donyo Sabuk -Tala road to open up the area and link them to markets in lower parts of Eastern region.
The tarmacking of the 35 kilometre stretch was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta seven years ago but has since stalled.
A spot check by KNA established that only less than 10 kilometres from Tala to Kisukioni is tarmacked, while the remaining stretch is characterized by deep holes in the middle and edges of the road, making it narrow and hard for matatus to overtake one another.
Meanwhile, only a few old matatus continue to brave the rough terrain as other drivers have withdrawn their vehicles to favorable routes.
Drivers who spoke to the press said they abandoned the rough route after being forced to take their vehicles for routine maintenance thrice a week, thus consuming almost all of their returns.
“A number of matatus have broken down on this road. It is a risky and tiresome stretch that drains us completely. If tarmacked, one can take up to five trips a day. However, currently we only take two,” said Simon Muema, a Kilimambogo Sacco driver.
Another driver, Antony Gitau plans to withdraw his vehicle in the coming month saying it was making loss.
“Most of the money goes to garages. During the rainy season, the road is deplorable and no one can dare to risk his vehicle in this road lest you cause an accident,” he said.
Commuters complained of hiked fares, tiresome journeys and long time before one gets to their destination.
Ambrose Ngige, a resident of Kilimambogo and also a vegetable trader at Tala market said transporting agricultural produce through the route has not only been expensive but also time consuming.
“Before I arrive at Tala market three hours later, I’m either tired or the state of my goods does not attract the market,” he said.
Commuters mostly from Thika East Sub County said the road has been a big letdown especially in times of emergencies.
“Taking someone to hospital or an expectant mother to deliver is a risky affair. Accident victims of snake bites or wildlife attacks from the nearby Ol Donyo Sabuk game reserve also suffer. Accessing basic services is a problem,” said Pastor Stephen Ngumbau of the Restoration Ministries.
The tarmacking of the road was meant to link Kiambu and parts of Upper Eastern Counties to the lower Eastern parts through Machakos town.
The area is also agriculturally productive given the many coffee estates that the road cuts through and the newly established pineapple farms owned by the Delmonte Company.
By Wangui Mbuthia/ Muoki Charles