Malindi Town is set for a major facelift after the World Bank granted the Kilifi County Government Sh233 million to carry out major road, drainage and solid waste projects in the town.
The projects, which the international lender is funding under the Kenya Urban Support Programme, include the tarmacking of part of Mtangani road that leads to the Malindi Maximum Prison, the expansion of Malindi Town’s drainage system as well as the establishment of a solid waste recycling plant in Casuarina area.
A contractor has already started building 800 metres of the Mtangani road and the business community is elated, since the stretch being worked on has been the most troublesome due to the numerous pools of dirty water that have rendered it impassable for more than two years.
The road is being improved to bitumen standards and is expected to boost existing businesses as well as open up the area it serves up for more businesses. It stretches from the Absa (formally Barclays) Bank junction to Pearl (Paradise) Hotel where it will join the already constructed Slaughter House Road.
The engineer supervising the works, Mr Hatimy Nurein, says the section of the road will cost Sh 67 million and will entail the construction of two cross culverts of 900 millimetres and 600 millimetres as well as four vertical drains to take care of the drainage problems along the stretch.
Mr Nurein told journalists at the construction site at Malindi Central area in Malindi town on Sunday that although the Bill of Quantities had given the contractor six months to complete the works, the contractor had indicated he would complete the job within three months.
According to Nurein, the project will entail the actual construction of the road to bitumen standards as well as its shoulders (the total width being eight meters), as well as proper drainage to prevent it from being damaged by stagnant water.
”I know there is the issue of drainage, and in my design I am going to take care of the drainage. We are going to put two cross culverts one is 900 millimetres and the other one is 600 millimetres as well as four vertical drains,” he said.
Malindi Town Manager Silas Ngundo said the project would be a major breakthrough to motorsists and the business community along the road as it will solve a perennial problem of flooding that had affected businesses.
“During rains, a lot of storm water floods the section especially at Surahi Restaurant and Paradise Hotel and this has inconvenienced motorists for many years, but with the new project, this will be a thing of the past,” he said.
The business community, led by the chairman of the the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI), Kilifi County, Mr Majid Swaleh, welcomed the project, but raised concerns over the quality of the roads being constructed given that the stretch is prone to flooding.
“This is a good project that is being supported by everybody because it will open up the areas it serves for businesses,” he said adding, “When complete, this road will connect with the one from Ganda, which will in future be used as the main road to Lamu.”
He thanked the government for fast-tracking the project saying it would ease movement and open up access to institutions and hotels.
”There are few businesses currently; only three or so hotels and schools but once tarmacked, new businesses will come up,” he said.
Swaleh however called for more transparency in implementing projects saying the county administration should come clean on why it decided to build a tarmac road instead of using cabro blocks as earlier indicated.
“We were initially told that the road would be built using cabros, which are more durable, but now we are told it will be built using bitumen. This matter must be clarified,” he said.
For Peter Njuno, the proprietor of Premier Guest House and Premier Restaurant (both situated along the stretch), the road will be a game changer, not only for his businesses, but also for other establishments, including the Kenya Red Cross-owned Pearl (formally Paradise) Hotel.
“This is something that we have been asking for a long time and I would say it was long overdue,” he said.
He said the poor state of the road had adversely affected businesses, especially because customers would be discouraged to use the road for fear that their vehicles would become dirty due to the stagnant water along the section.
“The problem we have been facing is that customers would come and find stagnant water along the way and drive back so their vehicles do not become dirty and this has made us lose a lot of business,” he says.
He however had a word of advice to the engineers handling the project, considering the problem of drainage that has rendered the road impassable for several years.
“The problem has been the drainage on this road; therefore, as they build it, they should take care of the drainage because that is the issue. Even if they tarmac and they don’t take care of the drainage then there will still be water on the tarmac and the tarmac will not survive for a long time,” he said.