Nyanza sugar belt road to be rehabilitated after two decades of neglect

Wednesday March 18 2020
TRACTOR

A tractor transporting sugarcane stuck on the Chemelil-Muhoroni road at Miwani area in Kisumu County on August 14, 2016. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By EDWIN OKOTH

The government has finalised plans to rehabilitate the Muhoroni-Miwani–Kisumu road after years of neglect in what promises users within the sugar belt huge relief.

The 50-kilometre stretch running through Chemelil, Miwani and Kibos to join the Kisumu–Kakamega road at the Mamboleo junction, traverses three major sugar millers and has been in bad shape for more than two decades.

The Kenya National Highways Authority is expected to float a tender for the roadworks this week after many years of subdued business along the corridor now only frequented by tractors and motorcycles but, which still find manoeuvring through the craters a herculean task.

LONDIANI JUNCTION

For motorists heading to Kakamega from Londiani junction, the stretch once passable will shave almost an hour from their travel time as they will not have to go through Awasi town as is the norm today. KeNHA, assistant director of corporate communications Charles Njogu said the road upgrade will be tendered to pave way for the works.

“It will be tendered next week (this week) and the rest will just follow the procurement process. There is an existing road as much as it is dilapidated so there will be a rehabilitation, not a new road construction,” Mr Njogu said.

Built in early 60’s, the road has become impassable and public service vehicles abandoned it leaving tractors and motorbikes as the only means of transport for residents.

State-owned sugarcane millers have, however, been deducting farmers money in the guise of maintaining the same road for many years with each tonne of sugar ceding one per cent of yields for repairs but their is little to show for it.

DELAYED HARVESTING

The money was previously kept by millers who now submit it to the County Government of Kisumu. The millers have for a long time blamed the bad stretch for delayed harvesting of sugarcane.

Bad roads have hurt millers in huge costs of repairs to tractors and vehicles as they struggle with basic operational overheads and stall frequently.

Trucks ferrying sugarcane to Kibos Sugar and Allied Industries Limited from the offsite weighbridges in Awasi, and Koru have to go to Kisumu on the main highway to avoid the badly damaged road.

The main highway in the sugar belt has been a carrot by politicians who have kept promising that it would be upgraded once they are elected into office.