The 70km Rumuruti-Nanyuki road upgrade that never was

The government’s pledge to rebuild the 70km Nanyuki-Rumuruti road in Laikipia County remains a mirage 12 years after the project was first proposed.

The idea was floated in 2009 during President Mwai Kibaki’s administration and there have been several promises to build the road since.

The road links Laikipia East and Laikipia West sub-counties and cuts across several conservancies and ranches

Various politicians have promised to champion the upgrading of the key road but the pledges have remained unfulfilled.

During his visit to Laikipia in 2018, Deputy President William Ruto promised that the road would be upgraded to bitumen standards. But it is still dilapidated.

In 2019, Governor Ndiritu Muriithi appealed to the national government to tarmac the road so as to ease transport along the route and spur the local economy.

“We have been promised that this road would be tarmacked by the national government since 2009, yet nothing has been done. We hope that the latest promise that tarmacking will commence soon comes to fruition,” Mr Muriithi said.

A few months before the August General Election, the government has now reaffirmed its commitment to upgrading the murram road to bitumen standards.

Infrastructure Principal Secretary Paul Maringa has reassured Laikipia residents that the government will inject Sh3.3 billion to rebuild the road.

As politics continue to play out regarding the road, it has emerged that the presence of wildlife has also played a part.

However, the PS appealed to stakeholders along the route, including conservancies, to abide by the law and allow consultations over construction of the road.

“In Kenya, we are a country governed by laws and we must respect that. Typically, we don’t build high-speed roads through conservancies and nature reserves,” Mr Maringa said on Monday when he inspected the road.

“But we need to consider the community’s needs for development. Our people need to do business.

“Whenever we approach such places, we engage the community and all stakeholders on environmental reflections. We will have a win-win situation whereby the conservancies will get the services they need without destroying the value of their premises. That is a sufficient assurance.”

He was accompanied by Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha) director-general Kungu Ndungu.

Mr Maringa said the government, through Kenha and the Kenya Rural Roads Authority (Kerra), has injected about Sh18 billion into the construction of 250 kilometres of roads in Laikipia.

He said Kerra had built 223km of roads to the tune of Sh13 billion, while Sh3.3 billion is being spent by Kenha to construct the 65km Naibor-Maralal road that links Laikipia and Samburu counties.

“The road is 88 percent complete and we have so far injected Sh2.6 billion. We have a balance of Sh700 million to conclude by the end of February,” Mr Maringa said.

“There is a lot of interest and commitment by the government to ensure that the counties of Laikipia, Isiolo, Samburu and Nyandarua are well resourced in terms of the road network,” he added.

He reassured Kenyans that the Sh14 billion Kenol-Sagana-Marua dual carriageway will be completed and launched by June this year.

The contractor has completed 38km of the 47km single carriageway from Kenol to Sagana.

“The contractor has given us the commitment to finish the second carriageway so that we have a total of 96 kilometres by June this year and we will be able to celebrate that achievement. That is one of the most heavily populated roads in the country by vehicles,” Mr Maringa said.

The government aims to extend the dual carriageway to Isiolo, Meru, Embu and back to Makutano in Kirinyaga, he said.

“This is work that is in the kitchen of the government and it will be rolled out once it matures,” he said.

“We want to ensure that the Central Kenya region taps more into the tourism and agriculture sectors once we link it up fully to the northern frontier. We are designing Kenya so as to have road networks become agents of growth of trade.”

He promised that the Sh17.9 billion Lamu-Ijara-Garissa highway project will be completed by May this year.

The 453km project is part of the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (Lapsset) Corridor project that aims to link Garissa to Lamu.

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