The 172-kilometre Ahero- Isebania highway is set for an upgrade, complete with new service roads at commercial centres along the corridor to help boost trade with Tanzania.
The project traversing four counties - Migori, Kisii, Homa Bay and Kisumu- is expected to improve trade in the Lake Victoria basin.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the government will fund the project, which is a major boost to traders in Kenya and Tanzania who have been struggling with the narrow and worn road.
“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.
Besides the improvement of the main road, 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.”
The improvement will also entail building of five-metre wide service roads on both sides of the road at major trading centres along the project corridor 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 timelines and cost of the project are not indicated in the report.
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.
Kenya’s exports to the East African partner peaked at Sh46 billion in 2012 but has since declined to Sh42 billion in 2014.
The value of imports jumped from Sh11 billion in 2013 to Sh18 billion last year.
News of the intended upgrade comes even as a programme to tarmac 10,000km through private funding popularly known as the Annuity Programme seems to be flagging.
Last month, President Uhuru Kenyatta asked bidding contractors to lower their quotations or forget about landing the projects.
The Jubilee government is trying to improve the road infrastructure across the country, following in the footsteps of former president Mwai Kibaki who inherited a dilapidated road network.