Expansion of Kisii –Isebania 84km road project will be completed in December this year after over five years of construction, County Resident Project Engineer Eng. James Mageto has said.
Speaking in his office at Suneka, Eng. Mageto said the project which is part of the Kisii- Ahero- Isebania Road project is located mainly in Kisii and Migori although there were some feeder roads in Homa Bay County.
At 80 percent completion, the project also has feeder roads that cover, Suneka-Rangwe, Imbo-Olare, Nyamataro-Daraja Moja, Nyachenge-Tabaka, Nyambera-Nyatieko, Omoya-Onyege and Riosiri-Ogembo predisposed to many accidents.
Eng. Mageto added “ residents and motorists stood to benefit from the construction of a dual carriageway from the junction interchange at Daraja Mbili, and widening of the rest of the road up to Isebania which was previously five meters wide and but 95 percent if we go by the original works,” said Eng. Mageto.
He said that the project’s employer is the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) and financed by the African Development Bank ADB at 89.3 percent, while the national government paid 10.7 percent excluding taxes.
The main contractor, M/S China Henan International Cooperation Group Ltd. has completed pavement and surfacing, cross culverts works, and protection works while drainage works, road furniture and general tidying up are in progress.
The initial cost of the project was Sh8.5 billion but was revised to Sh11 billion after appraisal due to various challenges.
The bottlenecks experienced in the last five years, Dr. Mageto cited, were delayed mobilization of equipment by the contractor for one year, pending payment totaling Sh2 billion, and delayed compensation of the affected residents by the project which is supposed to be done
three months before the commencement of the project.
“This affected Kisii side of the project as residents were reluctant to move for a long time, while torrential rains that often pound the area made work difficult especially in the months of February to May,” he said.
Other challenges were the 2017 elections-related unrest and the Covid-19 pandemic which stalled the works.
The Interchange at Daraja Mbili will be the crown of the project where there is going to be a convergence of Kisii to Kisumu road, Kisii to Isebania and Kisii to Nairobi road that passes through Narok and Mai Mahiu.
The location initially experienced endless traffic jams but with the dual carriageway which is currently at 70 percent completion to Nyamataro area on the Kisii to Kisumu road and Suneka area on the Kisii Isebania road, it will be thing of the past.
Vehicles coming from Kisumu to Kisii will pass on the lower side of the interchange while those from Migori will go through the upper side in a bid to reduce the traffic jam among other inconveniences associated with the interchange.
On employment, the resident engineer said over 200 people out of whom half are locals have been employed since the beginning of the project although efforts to get the required 30 percent gender balance in the project was not possible as they managed only 18 percent.
This, he said, was because road construction was not conducive to women and persons with disability who are only two so far.
In a recent meeting with youth representatives held in Kisii town to enlighten them on various opportunities, the government spokesperson Rt. Col. Cyrus Oguna said the government had invested in many projects and channeled a lot of resources to cater for the youth.
Speaking on his behalf, an officer from the office of the spokesperson Muchiri Karanja said the government had rolled out many projects and programmes to caution the youth from rising unemployment especially because they formed the majority of the population.
Kisii County Director of Youth Affairs Richard Momanyi explained the government was keen in ensuring that youth were empowered and that they secured decent earnings.
He cited Kenya Youth Employment Opportunities Programme (KYEOP), the Youth Enterprise Fund and construction of youth empowerment centers in every constituency as the interventions that the government initiated.
Momanyi implored the youth to take up the opportunities and utilize resources provided by the government to secure their future.
Youths interviewed described the project as a blessing saying they were able to earn a living from working on the road construction sites.
Aric Abugi, a surveyor in the project, said it had enabled him to gain experience and earn a living and urged other youths not to rely only in the office but also on the construction sector.
Amos Oeno, who is working as a foreman said he was able to earn wages and fend for his family.