Dangerous roads in Mlolongo that have remained 'good for campaigns'

A giant pothole filled with water from rotting garbage on the road leading to Ngwata Primary School in Mlolongo Phase Three. The situation has remained since December 2023.

Photo credit: Millicent Mwololo|Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The residents claim that the terrible state of the roads has impacted transport and mobility in the area.
  • Motorists, and transport operators – including bobaboda riders –  have called out the government for what they termed as laxity in ensuring that the link roads are in good condition. 
  • Investors are shying away from Mlolongo due to the poor road network which is an additional economic cost, pushing up the cost of doing business.

From the Nairobi-Mombasa highway, Mlolongo a satellite highway town off the Nairobi Expressway in the far East side of Nairobi is a town to behold, especially for a first-timer.

The central business district (CBD) features tarmacked and cabro-paved pavements.

However, a step into the Police Road, the main access ring road which runs from the CBD all the way to Mlolongo Phase Four through the Gossip Stage, and African Inland Church (AIC) Baraka, speaks of tears, shattered hopes and neglect.

Residents of Mlolongo and the business community decry the poor state of roads in their neighborhood.

The residents claim that the terrible state of the roads has impacted transport and mobility in the area.

Motorists, and transport operators – including bobaboda riders –  have called out the government for what they termed as laxity in ensuring that the link roads are in good condition. 

Motorists have resorted to leaving their cars at home after multiple visits to the garage, thanks to the roads, which are punctuated with big potholes.

Kasina Bridge

A pickup truck struggles to cross the Kasina Bridge on April 22, 2024.

Photo credit: Millicent Mwololo | Nation Media Group

Jackson Momanyi, a Phase Three resident and a bodaboda operator in Mlolongo says that the roads in Mlolongo become completely impassable whenever it rains.

“For the years I have lived here since 2014, successive county governments have been promising to construct the roads but nothing has been forthcoming. Our roads do not even have drainages or culverts,” Mr Momanyi shares.

Dirty water

Since there is no sewerage system in Mlolongo, grey sewer water makes way into the roads very late in the evening and early in the mornings at 5AM, he adds. Surface run-off storm water and the grey water make the situation pathetic.

Right above The Valley View School, the road, a rocky 1.2 kilometre stretch is punctuated by protruding rocks in which a stream of surface running water meanders, making it slippery and uneven.

Here, lorries, private motorists, pedestrians, bodaboda riders and school buses struggle to navigate the rocky terrain, sometimes with dire outcomes.

DailyNation learns that there has been a spate of bodaboda accidents on this dangerously hanging uneven rocky terrain.

Injuries, more pain

Zachary Ochuka, 23, a bodaboda operator in Mlolongo Phase Three is the latest victim of a spate of road accidents involving motorcycle riders in the area.

He suffered an accident three weeks ago when his motorbike hit a protruding rock on the Phase Three road on his way from the Gossip stage.

The accident left him with injuries on his head and a torn cornea on his right eye. He is scheduled to undergo a corneal repair surgery at Lions Sight First Eye Hospital in Nairobi this month at Sh50,000, which he is struggling to raise.

Doctors have warned him that if he overstays the injury could result in an infection that might spread to the brain.

Mlolongo Phase Four is in a sorry state. The roads – which look like some freshly cultivated gardens – are a far cry from being usable as they are un-murramed and feature black cotton soil. Whenever it rains, the residents have to access their homes in gumboots.

The upcoming residential and commercial hub is lagging behind in development as there is no electricity connectivity.

Dominic Omari, a bodaboda operator and a resident of Mlolongo Phase Four also decries the poor state of roads.

“The Police Road serves over 100,000 people from Mlolongo, Sabaki and adjacent areas. These people vote and have a right to good roads. We have continually appealed to our elected leaders unsuccessfully. We want to put them on notice that we are not ready to be fed on similar promises in 2027,” Mr Omari commented.

“They should construct this road all the way from Gossip stage. Through Phase Three and Phase Four to connect to Katani Road at the United Nations housing in Syokimau.”

Access to the Mlolongo Community Hospital in Phase Three, a Level 3 government facility, is a challenge for the residents because even walking on the interior roads with deep potholes and flooded grey water is a tough sport for the sick.

“We have lost many lives here because we could not get to a hospital on time due to bad roads whenever it rains.

"Access to healthcare in Mlolongo has been hampered by the bad roads, and the fact that the government health facility does not disburse medication and that the medical personnel leave to their homes by 5PM,” explains Mr Omari.

Politicians and their politics

Every general election year, Mlolongo residents turn up in huge numbers to vote for development issues closer to their heart – but more so for a good road access network.

Decades before devolution came into force, scores of politicians have contested for the then Kathiani Constituency MP seat on a concoction of promises, but it is the road network that would always steal the show as a campaign item to tick the boxes.

Come in devolution and two, three successive Members of County Assembly have danced to similar tunes.

John Kamau, a businessman who has been residing in Mlolongo Phase Three since 2014 says that the roads have been a ‘campaign item’ for politicians to tick the boxes on their promises over the years.

“A few weeks to the general elections that is when the roads are slightly dug using a tractor and the story ends there, until the next general election year.

"We [business people], pay for licenses and levies to the Machakos County Government but they cannot even repair the roads.

We suffer because sometimes we lack essential commodities for our customers due to transport challenges as it may take up to three days for some goods to be delivered here.”

Similarly, Samuel Mwangi, a businessman and a resident of Phase Three says that many business people in the area are struggling as they cannot access essential goods due to transport challenges as the roads are impassable.

Kasina Bridge

The narrow Kasina Bridge with no guard rails in this picture taken on April 22, 2024.

Photo credit: Millicent Mwololo | Nation Media Group

“The MCA should wake up to address this challenge, and the county government should act. In August 2022, I woke up to vote for good roads, among other development issues.”

Nothing is left of the road from the Gossip Stage as it is punctuated with huge pot-holes, protruding rocks, uneven corrugation, and open trenches with cabro-stones falling off. Without drainages, the huge potholes trap run-off surface water whenever it rains, turning the roads into dams in which bodabodas and motor vehicles have to swim through.

Nickson Kipchoge, a bodaboda rider in Mlolongo Phase Three says that bodaboda accidents have been common in the area. Without any drainage, stagnant water stays on the roads surface for weeks, rendering them slippery and muddy.

Due to the poor roads, the riders decry that they spent a lot of time and money repairing their motorbikes. This affects us economically and we have to adjust the fares to recoup the loss and damage in repairs, which impacts negatively on business, Mr Kipchoge narrates.

In mid-December, governor Wavinya Ndeti visited Mlolongo and she promised us that in two weeks, the roads would be constructed. She again visited Mlolongo in mid-January and reiterated the same. But nothing has happened, we are suffering.”

Brian Mutunga, bodaboda chairman at Mlolongo Phase Three says that there have been many empty promises that the roads will be constructed over the years. “We need to have proper tarmacked roads in this neighbourhood. We spent a lot of time in the garages repairing our motorbikes. So many people have been injured in these roads. We appeal to the government to ensure that the people in Mlolongo are served by a good road network. For many years, our local leaders have not heard our pleas.”

Next to White House, a popular mall in Phase Three, pedestrians, bodaboda cyclists, private motorists, handcarts, tuktuks and school business struggle to maintain balance and navigate five deep potholes that are characteristic of grey swimming pools.

Mlolongo residents are equal shareholders in this government and they too should enjoy the fruits of this government, Mr Momanyi added. “This is not politics, we need to see and taste real development. We pay taxes.”

The dangerously hanging Kasina Bridge is in a sorry state. Its concrete floor is completely worn out with the wire mesh now visible on the surface. The narrow bridge, which was constructed decades ago when Governor Wavinya Ndeti was Kathiani MP has no guard rails. Slowly caving in, Kasina Bridge is a disaster waiting to happen.

Enock Angwera, a motorbike rider and a resident of Mlolongo Phase Three explains that whenever it rains, water passes on top of the Kasina Bridge, making it impassable. “Right now the water has settled on top for several days, making the bridge impassable. Teachers at Ngwata Primary School have been victims in the morning, as some have fallen in the dirty waters in the potholes in Phase Three and on the bridge prompting them to go back home. It is a dire situation that even affects our children that their teachers cannot arrive safely in school.”

Meshack Ongaki, a resident of Phase Three and a bodaboda rider shares similar sediments. “There have been many promises from the county government that the roads are going to be constructed, but nothing has been forthcoming. We appeal to our leaders to show up and act.”

Contacted by the Daily Nation in January this year – Mlolongo-Syokiamu ward MCA Daniel Mutinda Ndwiki said that Police Line Road is among three other roads that have been earmarked for construction in Machakos County in the first quarter of 2024 and that the construction works would commence within a month. Three months have passed by, and no road works have been undertaken.

Last month, the MCA noted that plans to construct and repair the roads were in top gear and a contractor and engineers who had been awarded the tender were to commence the works soon. But he did not divulge when noting that government processes take some time.

“We expect the governor to come and launch the project before it starts or a few weeks have it has started.”

Every day, an estimated over 136,000 people – according to the 2019 national census data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) – live in Mlolongo.

These people make use of these dilapidated roads every day, risking their lives. Among them are school-going children as a good number of school buses struggle every morning and evening to get pupils and teachers to and from school.

As the roads in Mlolongo inch closer to being unusable, Machakos County government is spending over 50 per cent of its revenue allocation on salaries and wages latest data from the National Treasury, published in the Draft 2023 Budget Review and Outlook Paper (BROP) indicates.

Also, between July 1, 2023 and December 31, 2023; Machakos County had only spent 5.2 per cent of its 2023/24 budgetary allocation on development. In a report released by the Controller of Budget report released on February 29, 2024, Dr Margaret Nyakang’o flagged Machakos County as having the lowest absorption rate of 24.5 per cent, and being among the counties that had spent a big chunk of their budgetary allocations on recurrent expenditures at the expense of development.

The Machakos County Assembly which has 61 MCAs had spent Sh36 million in the first half of the 2023/24 financial year on sitting allowances, averaging Sh98,888 monthly. This put it second after Baringo County Assembly with 45 MCAs, which spent Sh41.07 million on sitting allowances, averaging Sh152,105 monthly.

Machakos County had also spent Sh67.15 million on foreign trips, coming second after Nairobi which spent Sh115.6 million on international travel.

Makueni, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Kwale and Kakamega counties also had the lowest budget absorption rate, denying their population the much-needed development projects.