The Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) has invited bids for the upgrade of the 172-kilometre Ahero-Isebania highway that is expected to boost trade with Tanzania.
The project to be funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the government of Kenya will be implemented in two lots, one covering the Ahero-Kisii stretch and another covering the Kisii-Isebania section.
“Interested firms must provide information indicating that they are qualified to perform the services,” the agency said, setting a December 17 deadline for submission of bids.
The project traversing four counties – Migori, Kisii, Homa Bay and Kisumu – is expected to improve trade in the Lake Victoria basin. Traders in Kenya and Tanzania presently struggle on the narrow and worn road.
The new highway will have special service roads at commercial centres to boost uptake of goods.
“The rehabilitation of the Isebania-Kisii-Ahero section of the Tanzania-Kenya-South Sudan Corridor will facilitate cross border movement of passengers and freight, and further enhance access to regional markets,” says the environmental and social study report.
“The project road condition has deteriorated over the years due to increasing transit traffic on the road. Currently, the road carriageway width measures 4-5m wide, and increasingly is becoming a major constraint for the main economic activities within the Lake Victoria basin.”
The report adds that traffic accidents have increased due to the narrow and heavily potholed road condition.
The project will also entail upgrading 75km of feeder roads that connect to the highway. These include the Oyugis-Kendu Bay road (19.5km), Nyachenge-Tabaka-Ogembo road (15km), Sondu-Nyabondo road (6km), Oyugis-Gamba road (7km), Suneka-Rangwe road (18km), and Misambi-Ekerenyo road (11km).
“The population of Lake Victoria Basin is over four million and up to two million people are directly served by the Isebania-Kisii-Ahero road and the associated feeder roads for their transport needs upon which they derive their income and livelihoods,” noted the report.
The improvement will also entail building of five-metre wide service roads on both sides of the road at major trading centres to enhance accessibility to businesses.
In addition, the upgrade will include the building of bus terminals complete with market stalls at Oyugis and Migori and roadside markets at Katito, Sondu, Chabera, Kadongo, Mosocho, Nyachenge and Ranen.
“Other components under the project include establishment of Roadside Traffic Crash Trauma and Injury Recovery Centre at Nyabondo hospital consisting of: a new surgical unit, medical emergency equipment, including provision of five ambulances, post-crash counseling unit, and water supply points at Nyabondo Hospital and to the surrounding community.”
The improvement of the road represents an attempt at improving regional trade and business with Tanzania, which has been on a dip in the last two years.
Exports to Tanzania have been declining partly due to a vibrant manufacturing sector in Dar and Kenyan firms opening shop in the neighbouring country.
The UK and Pakistan overtook Tanzania among the top buyers of Kenya-made goods after exports to the neighbouring state dropped 31.5 per cent in the nine months to September.
Tanzanian consumers bought Sh18.6 billion worth of Kenyan goods in the period, behind the UK’s Sh29.6 billion and Pakistan’s Sh21.6 billion, according to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
Kenya’s exports to Tanzania stood at Sh27.2 billion in the same period last year.
Some of the goods that Kenya sells to Tanzania include medicines, soap, sweets and snacks and construction materials.
SOURCE: THE EAST AFRICAN