Chinese contractor blames delay in tarmacking 74-km road on Covid and rains

The contractor awarded the tender to tarmack the 74-kilometre Mbita-Sori road through Sindo, Magunga and Kiabuya has blamed the delay on Covid-19 and heavy rains.

China Civil Engineers Construction Corporation’s Xiao Hongzhi says they could not import the machinery after the government announced the lockdown of the country.

“Transportation of machinery to Kenya was hampered by the lockdown both here and China,” Xiao said.

The Sh2.83 billion job was awarded in early March.

On July 3, National Assembly Minority leader and Suba South MP John Mbadi handed over the project for the official start of the job.

Mbadi said the tarmacking of the road was to start in 2011 but this did not happen due to some “impasse”.

The government re-advertised the tender late last year and awarded the job to the Chinese company.

“The contractor was to start work 21 days after the handover,” Mbadi said.

But by Friday last week, the construction had not started.

Homa Bay county commissioner Moses Lilan and Homa Bay director of Presidential Delivery Unit Jared Buoga toured the site at Kiabuya in Suba South.

Xiao told them that “work will commence when the rains subside”.

Lilan was concerned that the delay was a raw deal to residents service and reminded the contractor that government projects have specific delivery time frame.

“Start the work so residents don’t continue complaining about poor roads. Most of them can’t access health facilities or market their produce because of impassable roads,” the administrator said.

Buoga said the road is one of the priority projects that will soon be discussed in the National Assembly.

“The government approved the start of construction, hence we expect immediate commencement of the work,” he said.

Fishermen and maize, sorghum and sunflower farmers say the poor state of the road had adversely affected them.

The road serves residents of Homa Bay and Migori counties.

Fisherman Jacktone Ouma complained: “Lack of good roads makes people sell fish and farm produce at throwaway prices or else they go bad. Construction of this road will save us the losses.”

The officials also toured the Sh1.2 billion Rodi Kopany water project, which is a partnership between Lake Victoria South Water Services board and the Belgium government.

The project involves the rehabilitation of water supply plant in Homa Bay town to boost the daily output from 2,000 cubic metres to 8,500 cubic metres. A borehole has also been drilled in Rodi Kopany.

“The projects will address perennial water shortage in the two urban centres,” Buoga said.

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