Rampant vandalism of new signposts and sand harvesting have badly affected the safety of the newly-opened 14 kilometer Athi River-Kyumbi dual carriageway stretch along the Mombasa highway and exposed motorists to grave danger.
Almost all the new road signs erected along the new stretch of the highway with the aim of guiding motorists, easing traffic congestion and reducing accidents along the section have been vandalized, according to the project’s Resident Engineer, Joash Ochieng’.
“Also lack of funding and alterations of the phase one design have halted the construction of the roundabout at the Machakos turn-off, thus increasing the risk of accidents at the point,” Eng. Ochieng added.
The engineer revealed that marauding youths had resorted to scooping sand for sale from the embankments of the two sides of the highway, thus weakening its stability.
He consequently appealed to the government to move with speed and rein in the youths who are engaging in the said vices and also address several other challenges that hinder completion of the new stretch.
Ochieng made the disclosure yesterday while briefing the Machakos County Development and Implementation Committee (CDICC) members on the status of the project during a meeting held at the contractor’s site office at Lukenya, Mavoko Sub-county.
The 14 kilometer stretch which is a Kenya National Highways Authority (KenHA) project is being undertaken by the China Railway 21st Bureau Group (Kenya) Company Limited.
The committee which is led by the Machakos County Commissioner Esther Maina had visited the project on an evaluation tour. Also attending the briefing session was the Delivery Director in charge of Lower Eastern in the President’s Delivery Unit Mr. Larry Mulomi and representatives of the Chinese contractor, and consultants.
The committee members later held their bi-weekly meeting at the project resident engineer’s boardroom where Mr. Ochieng told the members that the situation had been worsened by the presence of several steel milling companies within Athi River which provided a ready market for the stolen steel signs.
“On the other hand, sand harvesting is being done at the road reserves and on the road embankment for selling to businessmen thus undermining the stability of the road,” he added.
He disclosed that the multi-billion project which is intended to ease traffic congestion between Athi River Town and Machakos turn-off is 61per cent complete but cautioned road users to exercise caution as the opened stretch was not fully complete.
He said the full completion of the stretch had also been hampered by the lengthy land acquisition procedures as well as the squatter issue in Athi River that complicates the compensation process.
He cited the compensation for the Devki, Daystar and Mua road interchanges as some of those affected by the non-remittance by the government.
“The encroachment of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) on the road reserve at Athi River resulted in change in the design at Athi River that led to additional costs,” the Engineer observed adding that efforts to get the Railways Company to compensate land owners for an alternative route for the highway had proven difficult.
By Justus Keesi