Protests rock Utange after 15 people die along deplorable road

Utange residents blocking a section of Old Malindi road on Tuesday PHOTO JANET MURIKIRA

Transport along a section of Old Malindi road was on Tuesday paralyzed after residents of Utange and Palestina areas took to the streets to protest against the deplorable state of the road which they say has claimed 15 lives over the past three months

Protestors who composed of area residents, Boda Boda riders and local activists blocked the ‘stage ya Allan’ site which is synonymous with flooding during the rainy season accusing leaders of turning a blind eye on the road that was once used by motorists traveling to Malindi.

“We the Boda Boda riders are tired of this road because it has become a gamble with our lives and our passenger’s lives. Our leaders have turned a deaf ear on our cries” Chengo Saro, the chairman of the Boda Boda riders said.

The residents said the 15 people who include three pregnant women had passed away in different incidents while being ferried along the largely potholed road.

READ ALSO: Contractor blames KURA on stalled rehabilitation of Utange road

“ Whenever it rains we are forced to divert and use muddy feeder roads because this road becomes completely impassable” Chengo added.

Rehabilitation works for the road that in part marks the boundary between Kisauni and Nyali sub-counties and Bamburi and Shanzu wards began in 2016 after a series of yet another protests along the road.

According to the Kenya Urban Roads Authority, the 13-kilometer road is to be rehabilitated at a cost of sh.796,371,134.40 with the works expected to have been completed in September 2019.

However, more than ten months after the lapse of the expected completion date, area residents have to choose between wading in muddy water or being tossed to and fro whenever they are being driven along the road whose rehabilitation works have stalled for more than three years.

Read also: Two drown while trying to cross illegally to Kilifi

In May, the contractor awarded the tender to construct the road absolved himself from any blame arguing that the authority had paralyzed his ability to complete construction works due to delayed payments.

“It all has to do with delayed payments that have limited our ability to execute construction works on the road. The design of the road was changed, some parts of the road reserve are encroached to such an extent that we cannot construct footpaths and drainages.” Fahim Ewad, the director of Equistar limited, the company awarded the tender to rehabilitate the road told Baraka FM.

A spot check by Baraka FM shows that only 5.07 kilometers of the road have been rehabilitated which is the section that stretches from Shanzu to Hassan Joho girl’s secondary with the contractor claiming that the authority had not yet approved payment for part of the completed section.

However, the story behind the stalled rehabilitation works gets complicated as the time lapses.

Late last year, the Kenya Urban Roads Authority embarked on giving demolition notices to building owners who had encroached on road reserves which residents argue have contributed to stalled rehabilitation works.

A few weeks later, contractors controversially repaired potholes in areas along sections of the road where buildings had been earmarked for demolition.

On Tuesday, a section of Mombasa activists who had joined the residents to protest said they had given the authority 14 days to ensure the stalled rehabilitation works have resumed.

“ Its not fair that taxpayers are forced to use such a road. We are giving the government 14 days to resume rehabilitation works on this road failure to which we will hold daily protests till we are heard and should push comes to shove we will sue the government over the lives lost along this road” the Muslims for Human Rights(MUHURI) rapid response officer Francis Auma said.