Transportation nightmare as key road in Tharaka Nithi remains impassable due to heavy rains

Vehicles stuck mud

Vehicles stuck on the muddy Chuka-Kaareni road which connects Chuka town to Tharaka-Nithi County headquarters in Kathwana on November 24, 2022. Tarmacking of the 30-kilometer road has stalled for eight years.

Photo credit: Alex Njeru I Nation Media Group

The poor state of the 30-kilometre Chuka-Kajuki-Kaareni road has made it a nightmare for Chuka/Igambang’ombe residents to travel to the county headquarters in Kathwana.

The ongoing heavy downpour in the region neighbouring Mt Kenya forest has rendered the key road impassable, forcing motorists to use the Kawanjara route through Embu County, which is about 70 kilometres longer.

On Thursday, motorists who attempted to use the road got stuck in the mud with students going home for the holiday forced to pay Sh400 for the 30-kilometre journey, up from Sh200 during the dry season while those who used the Kawanjara road spent about Sh600.

The building of the crucial road, which connects the county headquarters to its main commercial hub in Chuka was launched by President William Ruto on May 10, 2015, and was expected to be complete in March 2018 but has since been tarmacked only six kilometres.

The contractor, Westbuild General Contractors Ltd, left the site four years ago and local leaders have since then been promising that the government will assign it another contractor.

Two months ago, Chuka/Igambang’ombe MP Patrick Munene said the government had successfully terminated the contract with Westbuild General Contractors Ltd and assigned the road to three contractors, but on Thursday when Nation.Africa toured the road, no work was going on.

“To make sure that construction of the road that has stalled for several years is completed within a short period, the government has assigned it three contractors who will start the work at different points,” said MP Munene two months ago.

The residents have faulted the government for ‘ignoring’ such a key road that drives the economy of the region.

Car stuck

A car stuck on the muddy Chuka-Kaareni road which connects Chuka town to Tharaka-Nithi County headquarters in Kathwana on November 24, 2022. 

Photo credit: Alex Njeru I Nation Media Group

Mr Nicholas Kimathi, a truck driver said he had spent three days stuck in the mud on the road and that he was yet to get out of the mess.

He said he buys sand from Kathwana and sells in Chuka and that he cannot make any profit if he uses the Kawanjara road which is tarmacked.

“My truck got stuck here on Tuesday night and I was supposed to deliver sand to a construction site in Chuka town but I am still here with no hope of any help,” said Mr Kimathi.

Those from Chuka town who sell fresh agricultural produce including vegetables and tomatoes in Kathwana market are also counting losses as their goods rot on the road.

“We have suffered enough; let the government hear our pleas and complete this road,” said Ms Jane Kageni, a trader.

Lorry stuck mud

A lorry stuck on the muddy Chuka-Kaareni road which connects Chuka town to Tharaka-Nithi County headquarters in Kathwana on November 24, 2022. Tarmacking of the 30-kilometer road has stalled for eight years.

Photo credit: Alex Njeru I Nation Media Group

During the last campaigns, President Ruto promised to complete the road and others in the county which have stalled.

In Tharaka constituency, work is still ongoing on the 36km Gatunga-Marimanti-Ciakariga road, whose building started on July 27, 2016, and was expected to be completed on January 27, 2019.

Work on the 23km Weru-Chogoria road in Maara constituency that is being tarmacked for Sh978 million started in 2016 and was scheduled to be completed by 2018, but it stalled at only 9.3km.

In the same constituency, the Sh1.1 billion 32km Kaare-Magutuni-Kathwana road, whose work was launched by Deputy President William Ruto on September 17, 2018 and was expected to be completed on March 7, 2021 is also in a terrible state.


 

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