The construction of Kshs. 10.8 billion Garsen-Witu-Lamu road has already began in earnest with the project expected to be completed in 2020 according to the Kenya National Highways Authority (KenHa)
This follows the pledge made by President Uhuru Kenyatta during a tour of Lamu early this year where he pledged that tarmacking of the road from Garsen-Witu-Mokowe would be done this year.
The project, is being financed by the national government and will undergo a radical facelift from the current earth/gravel road to a bitumen standard, and reconstruction of the paved section which runs from Gamba to MinJilla area.
The road forms the main access into Lamu County as it connects from the existing bitumen paved road from Garsen through Witu and Hindi to the Mokowe Jetty, from where boat services access Lamu Island. There is also an alternative route from Hindi through Milimani leading to Kiunga.
Speaking to KNA during a security assessment meeting in Witu area, KenHa Senior Engineer, Samson Murage stated that survey works are also underway, revealing that the contractor is already working on a detailed design of the 113 kilometer road.
KenHa have also confirmed that the road contractors H-Young company are currently carrying out bush clearing on road sections in the Garsen – Witu area.
“The detailed road design will take 4 months from which actual road construction will begin in January 2017,” Murage stated.
He further divulged that the road design and the bush clearing will be done concurrently, in order to ensure the project is completed in 3 years.
The KenHa official however, stated that presently, locals may not be engaged to assist with the bush clearing of the road, which he added is “highly mechanized”.
“The highways authority together with the contractor agreed that the road bush clearing process needs to be mechanized in order to tackle the hard to manage “mathenge” weed plant which is not easy to root out by hand,” he said.
Sentiments echoed by H-Young Regional project manager, David Sharvit who stated that construction plans are underway, with road construction machinery already in Lamu.
The H-Young official offered that actual survey will start on Monday.
He said that the bush clearing process though tedious and challenging would be completed in time for actual road construction to start in January
Sharvit stated that the contractors do not expect the road construction to experience traffic jam challenges as is the case in most urban centres but however urged the security agents to provide adequate surveillance and security for the construction teams.
“There will be two teams working on the road, with the first working from Mokowe to Witu and the second team working from Minjilla to Witu,” the contractor stated.
He further revealed that there will be a road bypass in Witu area, which he said is necessary to prevent tearing own Witu township which had a small road size to expand.
“In order to avoid tearing down a large chunk of the town in Witu, we opted for a bypass in the area, which will also mean some individuals get compensation,” Sharvit told KNA.
He assured that job opportunities will be available for locals adding that skilled personnel with engineering, road construction experience will be given first and high priority for employment.
Lamu County Commissioner (CC), Joseph Kanyiri lauded the move to employ youths, however, reiterating that there is need to engage prudently when available posts are advertised.
“The road contractor needs to be clear over which positions are available in time, to enable residents embrace the Vision 2030 project that will eventually benefit the LAPSSET project,” Kanyiri said.
The CC however, reiterated the national government’s position that adequate security will be provided for the contractors’ camps which will be based in Witu’s Public works compound and another one in Mokowe.
By Amenya Ochieng
Source : kenyanewsagency.go.ke