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Residents, legislators reject a billion-shilling major road 

Opiyo  Wandayi and David  Ochieng, addressing the media after a tour of the road on Saturday 12, 2020. Photo by KNA..

The  residents of Ugunja and Ugenya constituencies in Siaya on Saturday rejected a major road cutting through the two Sub-counties put up at a cost of over one billion shillings, citing poor  workmanship.

Led by their Legislators, Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) and David Ochieng ( Ugenya), the residents lamented that work on the Sh.1.2 billion Ugunja – Ukwala – Rwambwa road was substandard, adding that the tarmac was peeling off barely weeks after the contractor allegedly completed construction works.

In addition, the MPs, who were on a tour of the project, have cautioned the government against paying the contractor, arguing that there is no value for money.

Wandayi, the Chair of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC), said any public official who okays payment to the Chinese contractor will be held personally responsible and made to pay back the money.

“If there is any payment made or being prepared, whoever is responsible must be reminded of section 226 (5) of the Constitution that says they will be required to pay for the losses incurred as a result of laxity or deliberate attempt to defraud,” said Wandayi.

The PAC Chairman said it was worrying that the contractor was vacating the site despite several concerns of poor workmanship from local leaders and the public.

Ochieng, called on the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) and the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure to visit the project and address the public concerns.

“The workmanship is very poor and below par and drainage is poor, with some culverts not draining water,” said Ochieng.

He said that the contractor must be made to construct bus parks at Ugunja, Siranga, Ukwala and Rwambwa and install culverts in schools, churches and homes that he had rendered impassable after digging trenches while undertaking construction work.

“The President and former Prime Minister promised to come and launch this road in August, 2020. We will not allow them to commission it in this state,” said Ochieng, adding that the road was not worth calling a tarmacked one.

Speaking at various points along the 28-kilometre road, the residents complained that the construction of the road, though initially meant to improve transport and business, has seen the opposite in some areas due to the negligence of the contractor.

A  case in point, said Carilus Umija, a trader, was Nzoia market where traders have been forced to close down shops after the contractor dug huge trenches and dumped heaps of soil in front of the shops, making it difficult for both the traders and their customers to access the premises.

Umija, a trader in Nzoia said efforts to have the contractor clear the heaps, that were now a home to thickets, bore no fruits.

Residents, Nicholas Onyango, Fredrick Owuor and Vincent Otieno lamented that the contractor did not provide bus stops or areas where passenger service vehicles could drop off or pick passengers.

They appealed to the members of parliament to push the government to have the contractor add another layer of tarmac on the road and address the pertinent issues they have raised.

By  Philip Onyango

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