Barely six years after the hyped tarmacking by Malaysian road technology, is the eight kilometer Kianjai-Miathene road in Meru in a state of utter disintegration.
Large portions have become dusty and full of pot-holes, making it difficult to navigate for motorists and other road users.
When former Meru governor Peter Munya commissioned the Sh300 million 10-kilometre tarmac road from Kianjai to Miathene in Tigania West in June 2015, residents were excited.
The road built through Probase technology was being marketed as cost-effective and more reliable and the answer to Kenya’s underdeveloped Kenya rural network.
Its construction was marked with hype and local politics threatened to de-rail it as Munya’s detractors pouring cold water on it, terming it expensive.
When the Probase road was completed governors made a beeline for Kianjai to witness the much-hyped project.
Munya had the intention of replicating the project in other parts of Meru, to spur local economy.
When President Kenyatta visited Meru on March 1, 2015, he too was wowed and pledged a national government allocation for a five-kilometer extension to the Mikinduri market.
The construction of the road was also marred by local politics, with Munya’s detractors claiming the road was too expensive at Sh30 million a kilometer.
Senator Kiraitu Murungi petitioned the County Assembly not to approve Munya’s plan to tarmac 150 kilometers at a cost of Sh7 billion using Probase technology.
Kiraitu in his petition said a project of that magnitude required ultimate prudence and scrutiny as a big chunk of public funds were to be used.
He urged the County Assembly to reject the proposal, accusing Munya’s administration of rushing the proposal.
But residents were happy the probase road opened up the once sleepy region and land value instantly shot up.
“We were happy because we were able to reach hospitals and markets with ease. The road was impassable during rains. For the last six years, we have been happy but the road is now in a pathetic state,” said Steve Mwingirwa.
Mwingirwa said the county government should repair it just like it maintains other county roads.
The Probase technology involved using stabilizing and hardening agents, then sealing the road foundation to make it waterproof, meaning it is dry all the time and thus long-lasting.
“The new technology is much cheaper and the roads stay for up to 15 years without potholes, hence no need for repairs all the time,” Munya had said.
Munya’s colleagues at the time Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Ken Lusaka (Bungoma), Isaac Ruto (Bomet), William Kabogo (Kiambu), Dr Cleopas Lagat (Nandi), and Benjamin Cheboi (Baringo) were some of the county bosses who have praised it when they visited to see a project which they had wanted to replicate in their regions.
But barely six years after its construction large sections have been rendered impassable after the tarmac was washed off.
Other sections between the road which links Miathene to the Meru-Maua highway are filled with pot-holes.
Newton Itobi who was Roads Executive Committee Member in Munya’s administration said the road was well maintained during Munya’s tenure, and it was value for money.
“Any tarmac road requires regular maintenance two years after construction. We maintained it during our tenure,” Mr Itobi said. “It was much below the normal tarmac costs.”
But County Road, Transport and Energy Executive Julius Taitumu said the county government “disassociated” itself from the Probase road.
“It is a program that the county government decided not to be associated with because the technology proved unsustainable,” Mr Taitumu said.
Taitumu pointed out that the pilot project proved “ineffective” and the current county regime had no intention to replicate it anywhere else in the area.
“We were told this road was going to last for a long time without needing major repairs but the pot-holes have been here for years. We want the county government to repair it,” said Daniel Murithi, a boda boda operator.