The construction of the much awaited Sobea-Salgaa-Mau Summit dual carriageway on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway has begun.
The tender to award the construction of the 22-kilometre stretch was awarded to China Railway Number 10 company.
Heavy road construction equipment are in Salgaa and Migaa trading centres already.
Residents of Sobea, Salgaa, Migaa, Sachangwan and Mau Summit welcomed the decision to expand the road.
“We have been witnessing horrible accidents on this road for far too long. It is disheartening to see people die or get injured,” Mr Josephant Karanja, a Sachangwan resident, said.
Ms Lucy Wangari, a businesswoman in Salgaa, echoed his words.
“The road has become a slaughterhouse, especially during festive seasons. For long, we have asked the government to expand this road. Our prayers have been heard,” the trader said.
In December 2017, the government said it would spend about Sh500 million on the Salgaa stretch dual carriageway.
Kenya National Highways Authority assistant director in charge of corporate communication Charles Njogu said work would end in May 2019.
The 22-kilometre section of the Nakuru-Eldoret road stretches from Sobea, Salgaa, Migaa, Sachangwan and ends at Mau Summit. It also includes Jolly Farm and Mkinyai areas.
“All procedures for the construction were completed last month,” Mr Njogu said.
The project, according to the road agency, will involve the expansion of the notorious stretch, construction of emergency runaway truck rumps, the repair of guard rails and installation of warning signs.
LORRY BRAKES CHECKING POINT
The design also will provide for the construction of a lorry brakes checking point with a capacity of 20 trucks.
In December last year, more than 40 lives were lost on the deadly stretch.
An oil tanker crash in Sachangwan in 2009 left more than 200 people dead.
Mr Julius Moi, a truck driver, said the dual carriageway would help reduce accidents that mainly involve lorries and public service vehicles.
“Hardly a week passes without news of a fatal accident on the busy stretch,” Mr Moi said.
People’s Power Watch chairman Jesse Karanja and Mr Solomon Bii, a St John’s Ambulance volunteer, also welcomed the decision to expand the road.
They also asked the government to build a trauma centre on the stretch to help road accident victims.
“There is need for such a centre and a standby ambulance even before the dual carriageway is built. Every time an accident occurs, we take victims to Nakuru Level Five Hospital,” Mr Bii said.
The deal to build such a centre was reached during the grand coalition government.
Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui, Senator Susan Kihika, MPs David Gikaria (Nakuru Town), Raymond Moi (Rongai) and Joseph Tonui (Kuresoi) have been leading campaign for the construction of the Salgaa dual carriageway.
Dark patches of spilled oil, broken glass, pieces of rubber and mangled remains of vehicles dot the stretch.
Other black spots on the highway include Karai, Kinungi, Mbaruk, Gilgil and St Marys.