The completion of an 11.5 km road project in Mandera Township by Kenya Urban Roads Authority is opening the region’s economic potential.
The upgrading of the town roads to bitumen standards will not only create job opportunities for residents but improve access and transport of good and services.
The Sh767 million project features upgrading of a section of the Customs-Border Point 1 road, Old KCB-Hanaan-b9 road, New county headquarters roads and Shafshafey CBD road to bitumen standards.
County chief executive for Roads Ahmed Mohamed acknowledged that the new roads has given the town a facelift.
“The road will provide a platform for economic empowerment of our people as the development is expected to enhance movement of goods and services thereby creating jobs,” he said on Friday.
Mohamed said the county was looking forward to future partnerships that stir development.
In 2019, Mandera busses association chairman Mohammed Bardad decried the poor road infrastructure in the region.
The roads were in a bad state that most of them cut off whenever there was heavy rains.
Poverty levels in Northeastern are extremely high at 70 per cent, compared to the national average of 45 per cent. This is largely due to 50 years of neglect.
The road networks are poor though some improvement has been seen since the advent of devolution in 2013.
Electricity access is only seven per cent and most households experience water shortage due to extremely dry conditions.
The region is characteristically arid or semi-arid and frequent droughts create vulnerabilities for the population, 90 per cent of whom rely on livestock whose potential has not been exploited because of poor infrastructure.
Kura started the project in October 31, 2019 and was expected to complete it by last year April.
However, insecurity occasioned by heightened tensions following militia fighting in the project area and within the town, impact of Covid-19 pandemic and challenges in obtaining construction materials caused delays.
“Other challenges experienced included the construction of storm water drains due to the terrain of the land in Mandera and sourcing of manufactured construction materials,” Kura says
According to Kura, besides delivery of the contracted works, the project also featured a skills transfer programme, where county engineers were accorded on the job training on urban road project implementation and supervision to build the county’s capacity in implementing urban road projects under their charge.