Not having been in
those parts for several years, he was pleasantly surprised to
find that there were many positive changes on the road
infrastructure that has not being sung about nationally.
changes were not politically significant to warrant much song
and dance like the SGR, the medical equipment supplies to the
major hospitals or the Mombasa port and the developments
The first item was
the bypass round the lakeside city.
This has made life
so much easier for through traffic as has the dualling of the
road into the city.
starts as traffic tails back during peak times where the dual
carriageways end in the city.
This is exactly the
same as happens in Nairobi – the Thika Highway is heaven till
one gets close to the centre of Nairobi then all the jams and
queues kick in immediately.
It is time that the
road development planners work from the city centre outwards and
“roundwards” when designing new infrastructure.
In order to realise
the benefits of infrastructure improvements it is necessary to
ensure that one development does not create or just postpone
The Kisumu bypass
project works for those going round it but not those going into
The only big
criticism about the bypass per se is the access and egress at
The ramps are steep,
narrow and very tight.
In fact there have
been a few cases of vehicles falling off from the elevated parts
at the ends of the bypass due to the architecture of the
Though the bypass is
relatively new, it is urgent that the designers and owners of
the infrastructure, namely KENHA, look at improving the
structures at the ends of the bypass in order to enhance safety
and passage times.
Heading out towards
Busia there has been a quantum change in the quality of the road
surface, but only as far as Kisian which is about twelve
kilometres from the centre of the city.
kilometres in the busiest part of that road because it carries
all the traffic to Kisian where there is a major branch on the
road and the traffic is split with a significant portion of the
heavy vehicles as well as traffic heading for the border town of
The branch to Bondo
takes a lot of the medium to light vehicles.
The twelve kilometre
stretch has at least been done properly.
In the last twenty
years, there were major “upgrades” done on this stretch of the
road every five years and they would not last.
There was a question
mark about the quality of the implementation to the extent that
most people believed it was one of those projects that were
regularly repeated so people involved could “eat” from the road.
It could also have
been a lack of funding to properly execute a long lasting
upgrade of this section of road.
Suffice to say that
this time it looks impressive.
It has however also
created a couple of firsts in the county and probably across the
The first “first” is
the density of bumps per kilometre of road – and this is
counting the large bumps not the smaller rumble strips.
Kachumbari counted eighteen bumps in a ten kilometre section of
I have travelled a
lot around the country and I tend to agree with him that this is
probably the road with the highest density of bumps or if not
the longest continuous stretch of road with a high density of
The good thing about
these bumps is that they have been constructed so that one can
drive at fifty kilometres over them without causing major damage
to the suspension of the vehicle.
articulated vehicles can travel at a safe speed across the
deserve to be congratulated for this.
If any driver loses
control or causes fatalities in this sector then it is because
they have exceeded the speed limit set for the twelve kilometre
section of road and which the bumps do not undermine.
I will have no
sympathy with a driver who either totals his vehicle or himself
on this stretch of road.
The second “first”
is in the number of petrol stations built or being built in the
I counted last week
and came up with eight petrol stations on the same stretch of
None of these
stations is the typical jua kali “one or two pumps on a dusty
They are pukka
stations properly built with paved forecourts, canopies, shops
and quick service centres.
They are serious
The only worry in
this case is that they may not be able to return the investment
to the owners, again because of the density over the twelve
kilometres – but I may be wrong.
This kind of density
is the one that causes the operators of the stations (not
necessarily the owners) to start seeking ways to enhance margins
and the easiest is to look for and sell adulterated fuel to
Those who fuel there
should always get out and stand near the fuelling point as their
vehicles are being fuelled and smell out for the distinctive
smell of kerosene (or paraffin as we like to call it) which will
indicate potential adulteration.
One can then
immediately ask for a test on eth fuel and if the station cannot
do one then move on and find a station that can do so.
They must have a
gravimeter to be able to demonstrate that the fuel is
The usual collateral
developments found when a bypass is constructed have started to
kick in and we urge all county governments and national agencies
to come up with strict rules about what can and cannot happen in
the vicinity of major roads and indeed eventually all roads.
These should then be
We have written
about this in the distant past and it will be worth looking at
this again soon and especially when I get the answers to
questions that I have asked the agencies responsible for roads.
Going beyond Kisian
on towards Busia, one finds the same story that used to be
talked about concerning the first twelve kilometres.
All along the
hundred or so kilometres, there are various repair and upgrading
works going on and they will look good when done or are looking
good at the moment.
what is being done and how it is being done, it is likely that
the investment, even if just repairs, may not last beyond the
annual cycle of rainy seasons.
A little bit of top
dressing and re-carpeting here, some road edge clean up and
tarmacking, putting culverts to improve drainage without fully
extending the channels, erecting bumps without drainage
considerations – the list is long.
As Kachumbari says,
doing little things right the first time will make a big right
in the long term.