What you need to know:
- Road users say traffic lights on the bypass have not been fixed, making it dangerous to drive at night on the road.
- The road links Cheplaskei and Maili Tisa through Kapseret and Simat on the outskirts of Eldoret town.
- Nation.Africa found that some interchanges such as Cheplaskei, Kapseret and Maili Tisa are yet to be completed.
The construction of the 32-kilometre Eldoret Southern Bypass was greeted with high hopes by transporters and motorists of easing traffic congestion in Eldoret town and improving cross-border trade with East and Central African countries.
But six years on, the Sh5 billion road project, funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and launched by former President Uhuru Kenyatta, remains incomplete, drawing protests from investors in the transport industry.
The Kenya National Highways Authority, which is overseeing the project, had set April as the new completion date, but an investigation by Nation.Africa found that some of the interchanges such as Cheplaskei, Kapseret and Maili Tisa are yet to be completed.
Road users say traffic lights on the bypass have not been fixed, making it dangerous to drive at night on the road linking Cheplaskei and Maili Tisa through Kapseret and Simat on the outskirts of Eldoret town.
No road signs yet
Road signs have also not been installed along the highway, and transport investors are now calling on the government to speed up the completion and hand over of the project.
"We were expecting the project to be completed as promised by the government to decongest Eldoret town by diverting traffic — including long haul trucks — from the Uganda highway that cuts through the town centre, but it is taking longer," said Mr Michael Maina, a long distance truck driver.
But some of the transporters have described the bypass as costly in terms of distance and lack of social facilities such as hotels, and prefer to use the traditional Eldoret-Uganda highway, which cuts through the town centre.
"As much as the bypass is vital in opening up the Western Kenya region to markets in the East and Central African region, the distance is much longer than the Uganda highway and it will take a long time before it is fully utilised by many transporters," said Mr Gideon Koech, also a transporter.
Construction of the bypass was supposed to take 30 months and be completed by August last year and handed over by April.
The government paid Sh4.2 billion to 987 displaced landowners to pave the way for the project, which has been marred by numerous disputes over compensation.
The National Lands Commission (NLC) said it had paid most of those affected and that the remaining cases were due to lack of proper ownership documents.
"Most of the displaced landowners have been compensated, but I need time to verify those who are yet to receive their dues," a senior NLC official said over the phone.
Residents interviewed described the road project as a game changer in terms of new business opportunities and the expansion of Eldoret town.
"The project has created a multiplier effect as businesses have mushroomed along the highway, apart from decongesting Eldoret town," said Mr William Koech of Simat, Uasin Gishu County.
Land prices along the bypass have skyrocketed, with an acre that sold for Sh1.2 million four years ago now selling for Sh6 million.
"We expect land prices to rise due to increased demand as more investors set up businesses along the bypass," adds Mr Koech.
The government planned to build another bypass to decongest Eldoret town, which has a growing population of more than 500,000.
The road will start from the junction of the Eldoret Western Bypass near Ngeria, on the Eldoret-Chepriret road, cross the Eldoret-Iten road near Marura and return to the Eldoret-Turbo road near Maili Tisa on the Western Bypass.