Feature: Chinese rehabilitated highway transforms livelihoods in northwest Kenya

Source: Xinhua| 2018-11-07 22:12:21|Editor: Yurou
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BUNGOMA, Kenya, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- John Wekesa used to endure agony while driving along the dilapidated Bungoma-Kitale road in the agriculture rich north western parts of Kenya.

"The road was poor and dilapidated. It was a nightmare to penetrate through it but I'm happy now it takes me less than one and a half hours to Kitale from Bungoma," Wekesa told Xinhua on Wednesday.

He is a regular user of the Kitale-Webuye road measuring about 58.5 km which has been rehabilitated by a Chinese company.

The road has been constructed to bitumen standards by Jiangxi Zhongmei Engineering Construction Company at an initial cost of about 33 million U.S. dollars through funding from the Kenyan government and the World Bank.

And it is a sigh of relief to many motorists like Wekesa as the successful completion of the road has reduced the number of hours spent on the steering wheel.

Sprawling market centers along the highway also portrays the positive impact that the road has brought to residents.

Before the road was fixed, it was a nightmare for motorists who were forced to spend almost three hours to pass through the dilapidated highway.

"It was terrible to penetrate the road. We used to spend at least three hours on the road because it had big potholes. Now we spend less hours on the road," said Peter Barasa, a Public Service vehicle (PSV) driver.

Barasa said due to bad state of the road, he used to waste many hours on the highway making one trips each day.

"Nowadays things have changed. On a good day I can make three trips," Barasa told Xinhua.

Danson Sifuna, a regular traveler, said the fixing of the road has made his trips easier and cheaper.

"I used to pay 5 dollars from Kitale to Bungoma after fare was hiked due to poor state of the road but it has since dropped to 3 dollars and I'm happy this project is changing the lives of many people," said Sifuna, a cybercafe operator in Kitale town.

Mary Wafula, an employee of Trans-Nzioia County government based in Kitale town who commutes daily from Bungoma town says she reports office on time than in the past.

"I could get to office late and I was in trouble with my seniors but since the road was carpeted I report office on time," said Wafula.

Public Service Vehicle operators on the route said the construction of the road has reduced the cost of servicing their vehicles which was eating profit from the business.

"I used to visit garage to have my vehicle repaired from time to time due to frequent breakdown," James Maina, who owns a Nissan matatu plying in the route, told Xinhua in Bungoma town.

Maina said PSV operators are raking in better returns than in the past. Fruit trader, Eunice Nafula has a reason to smile. Before road was fixed, getting delivery from Busia town could take some several days.

"Transporters were reluctant to ferry goods because the road was dilapidated and caused damage on their Lorries. Those willing to transport asked us a lot of money and business is well because we have regular delivery of the stock," Nafula told Xinhua at Kitale's main market.

Business centers such as Kiminini and Kamukuywa Townships, Sikhendu, Kiungani and Maliki market center have recorded rapid growth since the development of the road started five years ago.

"There is high demand for land for at market centers along the highway and many people are flocking to these centers for business space," said Martin Waliaula, the Executive Officer at Trans-Nzoia Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.