By CR and Kuura Ibeere
Kenya has floated an international tender for the construction of the Isiolo-Mandera road. The Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) made the announcement and said the tender will cover two sections of the road. The road project represents the government’s plan to open up northeastern Kenya which has remained isolated economically from the rest of the country due to lack of access roads and other infrastructure.
At a cost of Ksh 81 Billion, the Isiolo-Mandera highway will be the single largest infrastructure project in northern Kenya and one of the most expensive roads in the country.
The 748km road highway project traverses five counties of Isiolo, Meru, Wajir, Garissa, and Mandera. According to the authority, the road project has been divided into nine lots, all of which are in different stages of design. The design review for the 77km World Bank-funded Isiolo-Kulamawe section has been completed. Tender details
The tender contract will cover the first section between Isiolo and Kulamawe (77km) while the second part is the 127km Kulamawe-Modogashe road. Charles Njogu, KeNHA assistant director of corporate communications, said after the opening of the bids, they will be evaluated and the contract awarded to the winner with construction projected to start later this year.
The road project will be implemented through the North Eastern Transport Improvement Project (NETIP) and financed by the government and International Development Association (IDA); KeNHA is the implementing agency.
A quick look at the Isiolo-Mandera road reveals that the current state of the road is currently characterized by deep gullies and potholes and requires an off-road vehicle to navigate. Traveling to Mandera from Nairobi by bus takes about two days and during rainy seasons the journey can take up to two weeks as roads become impassable with buses and trucks carrying relief food getting stuck.
The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) eastern region commissioner Mr. Ali Nur, said construction of the road will be a major boost to the region.
“Currently traveling to Nairobi from Mandera takes not less than a week and this has led to this area being marginalized. The road will cut this time to less than 48 hours and improve security,” said Mr Nur.
The 748 km B9 road that links the central part of the country to the north eastern will be a game-changer in developing several counties served by the road.
It is expected to open the northeastern part of the country to the other parts of the county and region and at the same time contribute immensely to the social-economic development of local people.
It is one of the biggest road construction projects in Kenya to be implemented in phases in the recent past. The road will contribute immensely to the realization of the Isiolo resort city as captured in vision 2030 initiated by the former President Mwai Kibaki and being executed in bits by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government.