The Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) has since released the building plans for the Isiolo-Mandera highway which will be the single largest infrastructure project in northern Kenya and one of the most expensive roads in the country.
Mr Ali Nur, the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) eastern region commissioner, said construction of the road will be a major boost to the region.
“Currently travelling to Nairobi from Mandera takes not less than a week and this has led to this area being marginalised. The road will cut this time to less than 48 hours and improve security,” said Mr Nur, Construction Review reported.
The 748km road highway project traverses five counties of Isiolo, Meru, Wajir, Garissa and Mandera and will cost Sh84.1 billion ($841 million). According to the authority, the road project has been divided into nine lots, all of which are in different stages of design. The design review for the 77km Isiolo-Kulamawe section has been completed with the project appraisal by the World Bank set for later this month.
The road project will be implemented through the North Eastern Transport Improvement Project (NETIP) and financed by the government and International Development Association (IDA). KeNHA is the implementing agency.
Once complete, the road will open up north eastern Kenya which has remained largely isolated economically from the rest of the country due to the lack of roads and other infrastructure. Apart from reducing travel time, incidents of bandit attacks on this highway will also disappear.
Currently, the road is characterized by deep gullies and potholes and requires an off-road vehicle to navigate. Travelling to Mandera from Nairobi by bus takes about two days and during rainy seasons the journey can take up to two weeks as roads become impassable with buses and trucks carrying relief food getting stuck.