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Residents furious over stalled road projects

Saturday September 28 2019

Kathwana Road

Angry residents barricaded Kathwana Road in Chuka town, Tharaka-Nithi County, on September 26, 2019. PHOTO | ALEX NJERU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

ALEX NJERU
By ALEX NJERU
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Angry residents of Chuka, Igambang’ombe sub-county, on Thursday barricaded Chuka-Kaareni road at various points protesting its deplorable state.

The locals demanded to know from their leaders why only six kilometres of the key road that connects Chuka town - the county’s largest commercial centre - with the county headquarters in Kathwana, had been tarmacked so far yet it was launched in 2014 and was expected to be complete in March 2018.

They accused Deputy President William Ruto and local leaders led by Governor Muthomi Njuki, Senator Prof Kithure Kindiki and Women Representative Beatrice Nkatha of being dishonest and failing to fast-track the road’s completion as promised.

In Maara constituency, transport along Keria-Magutuni-Kathwana road was also been paralysed for the last three days after residents also blocked it protesting its bad state.

Tarmacking of the road was launched by DP Ruto in July 2018 in company of the local political leaders but work is yet to start.

ANGRY RESIDENTS

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Angry demonstrators demolished the plaque containing names of DP Ruto that he unveiled during the launch of the project at Magutuni market.

Mr John Mutembei, a resident said: “We have realized that DP Ruto and our political leaders have been cheating us because the contractor, Westbuild General Contractor Limited is still here and is doing nothing,” said Mr Mutembei.

Ms Anastacia Karimi said locals who work as casuals on the road have not been paid for the last 13 months. She says their demands for pay are met with claims of delays by the government to release the funds, and even termination.

 “If the contractor has taken six years to construct only six kilometers, it means that the entire road is likely to take almost 30 years if there will be no change,” said Ms Karimi.

TRADING BLAME

Local leaders have accused the contractor, of laxity and poor workmanship.

However, the contractor argues that the work that has been financed by the Government of Kenya in collaboration with European Union has been moving slowly due to the terms of contract that compel him to use labour-based technology that restricts him from using heavy machines.

The contractor also blames the sluggishness on delay in release of funds by the financiers making it impossible to pay workers and buy construction materials.

Out of six roads that were started by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government in its first and current term, four of them stalled and none has been completed.

Westbuild contractor is also working on Kirubia-Kambandi-Kairini road in the same county that has also stalled.

He was also assigned Gatunga-Marimanti-Chiakariga road before the tender was terminated due to ‘laxity’ and the work given to a Chinese contractor.

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