Kinango road in Kwale County. FILE PHOTO | NMG
The completion of the 29km Kwale-Kinango road is set to delay further due to financial constraints. A spot check revealed the contractor left the site a month ago.
“I am aware that there have been minimal activities on site. The contractor had to leave the site for some time because there are some issues that we are still sorting out including financial challenges,” said Simon Omuono, the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) Coast region engineer.
The road that cuts through Shimba Hills National Reserve ignited a wildlife conservation debate between officials from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and KeNHA.
Previously, concerned environmentalists had stated that building the road through the park would affect the movement of wildlife and their migratory channels.
Mr Omuono said the design of the road is also being reviewed.
“It has been a big problem because the finances are not adequate. However, the institutions concerned are already working to ensure that the issues will be resolved so that the construction goes back on,” he said.
ALSO READ: Chinese firm wins Sh2bn tender to build Samburu-Kinango road
The road is among state-funded projects that are expected to spur economic growth in Kwale county.
Kwale Commissioner Gideon Oyagi, who is tasked with overseeing government projects in the county said they were already engaging the contractor so that he returns to the site.
“We all know that one has to work before being paid. I am also aware that they have not been working for a while but talks are ongoing to have him back,” he said.
Tarmacking of the road which links Kinango and Kwale and also connects the south Coast to the Nairobi-Mombasa Highway was to begin last year after the government awarded a Sh3 billion contract to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.
The road is also key as it will connect Kwale to the Likoni-Lunga Lunga road at Kombani once completed.
During an inspection of National Government Projects early this year in January, Principal Secretaries expressed disappointment that the tarmacking of the 29km stretch has not yet begun.
The major road has also played a big part in politics since independence with leaders always promising to tarmac it.
Other roads that have been tarmacked include the 50km Kinango-Samburu Highway which has since opened up Kinango as a major town as it connects it to the Mombasa-Nairobi highway.
Currently, most PSV buses and Tourist Service Vehicles (TSV) from Ukunda and Lungalunga are using the Kwale road to connect to Kinango.
Stakeholders in the trade and tourism sector say this has saved time for the tourists while attracting more visitors to the South Coast, who have been preferring areas in Mombasa and Malindi due to ease of accessibility.
ALSO READ: Uhuru's surprise Coast roads inspection jolts contractors
Kwale has most tourist attractions on the Coast, including the magnificent Wasini Island, Funzi Island, Shimoni, Diani Beach, Beach Hotels, and Shimba Hills National Reserve among others.
Those visiting Kwale in the past have been forced to rely on the Mombasa-Nairobi highway, going through Kibarani, Likoni ferry to Diani, where they experience frequent traffic jams which cause delays.
Other roads that have seen an economic spur in the once inaccessible areas are Lunga Lunga-Vanga, Malalani-Shimba Hills and Kanana-Shimoni roads.
The government is also keen to finish phase two of the Dongo Kundu section, which is expected to decongest the Likoni ferry crossing, whose notorious traffic snarls are blamed for slow economic activities and growth on the South Coast.
Ongoing infrastructure projects worth billions of shillings in Kwale and Mombasa counties are aimed at facilitating easy movement of goods, services and people and boosting the region’s economy.