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Road repair to boost business between Kenya and S.Sudan

30 December 2014, 10:25

Kitale - For over 15 years, businesses between Kenya and South Sudan have suffered great setback due to poor state of the Kitale-Lodwar-Nadapal road.

Drivers and motorists spend long hours both day and night on the 605km road.

But the long time wasted on the road and spoiled business is set to come to an end. This follows announcement by Kenya that design works of Kitale-Marich-Lodwar-Lokichogio-Nadapal road is completed, and rehabilitation of the dilapidated highway is at advanced stage.

"We have engaged three consultants to conduct feasibility studies, and once the finalizing of the various critical documents including the environmental and social impact assessment reports, the rehabilitation works will commence immediately," disclosed Paul Omondi, an engineer with Kenya National Highway Authority.

Omondi said on Sunday the poor condition of the road, which is considered a major link road along the Northern Corridor, had prompted Kenya to procure the services of three consultants to conduct feasibility studies before the start of the major rehabilitation work.

The official said the road is an international truck road that will help restore economies of the marginalized regions of Turkana and West Pokot counties and development of South Sudan.

"This road is key opener to the economies of Turkana and Pokot pastoralists and it will importantly help reclaim the development of South Sudan and preparations for its rehabilitation works is an advanced stage," he said.

The road starts at Lesseru, traverses Kitale, Kapenguria, Lodwar and Lokichoggio, and ends at Nadapal, the border between Kenya and South Sudan.

"The road will promote and facilitate regional economic integration and reconstruction efforts in all sector in South Sudan and provide direct road access to the port of Mombasa for the Sudan's exports without necessary transiting another country," said Omondi.

Business people and stakeholder s in the transport sector lauded the announcement, arguing that the road has killed and hurt business in the past year.

Martin Waliaula, chief executive of Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a business watchdog body, welcomed the government decision to repair the road to fast-track the business in the region.

The region earned its name as the home of cattle rustlers. Many of the locals are pastoralists. Insecurity and dilapidated road network has been cited as the possible setbacks to the fully exploitation of natural resources available in the region.

"We are happy that the government at long last has heeded to our voices that we are losing business potentials because of the bad state of the road," said Waliaula.

The completion of the rehabilitation works will be a relief to the pastoralist communities as well as transporters who use the road corridor.

Also see: GALLERY: Mukurweini road construction

"It is a nightmare. Operating a matatu business along Kitale- Lodwar is like throwing your money to a sinking venture," lamented John Kamau, a former Matatu operator between Kitale and Lodwar.

Kamau, who owned a fleet of minibus plying the route, moved away from the matatu industry after accumulative loss of 25,000 U. S. dollars in over three years in the business.

Simon Kachapin, the governor of West Pokot, and his Turkana counterpart Josephant Nanok, termed the project as critical to the eradication of ravaging poverty in the region.

"It is our prayers that this road is repaired and made accessible. It will boost our economies neglected by the previous governments," said Kachapin.

- Xinhua


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