The Kenya National Highways Authority (KENHA) has awarded the US $157.4m (approximately 17 billion Kenya shillings) Lamu-Ijara-Garissa highway project to a Chinese firm, China Communication Construction Company (CCCC). The company is expected to upgrade the 196km long highway to all-weather gravel standards, within a period of 36 months. The reason for the high cost of the gravel road has not been revealed, however, the cost of infrastructure projects in Kenya is usually very high due to corruption and kickbacks from those in power.
The Lamu-Ijara-Garissa highway project is part of the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor project and consists of spur roads associated with the highway. It is the first part of a US $228m road construction project that the state is expected to undertake in Lamu County stretching 250km.
According to the constructionreviewonline, KeNHA Chairman Wangai Ndirangu, recently revealed that the project which involves the construction of two security roads had already been budgeted for in the current financial year. “The two security roads will have a two-pronged effect of improving security within the Lamu-Boni area, as well as opening up the area for future investors once the Lamu Port operationalization takes off later this year,” said Engineer Ndirangu.
He further added that the Hindi-Kiunga road which is expected to serve as the main tarmacked road connecting Kenya to Somalia via Lamu will aid in improving cross-border trade relations with Somalia once diplomatic tensions are settled. “Initially gravel works, and clearing of the two road corridors will be done and we expect works to begin in April this year,” he revealed.
Currently, the banditry-prone Hindi-Kiunga road is in a state of disrepair and local leaders have been lobbying the national government to upgrade and tarmac it. Regrettably, due to its condition, the road has been a common target for Al-Shabaab militants who implant IEDs on it.