Tarmacking of 740 km Isiolo and Mandera highway is set to begin in the next few months and contractors have been urged to respect the conservative traditions of communities living in Counties that the road traverses.
Isiolo County Commissioner Mr. Joseph Kanyiri called for respect between the communities and foreign workers to be engaged in the development project so that the work can go on without any interruptions.
Speaking during a stakeholders’ dialogue forum that brought together officials from the World Bank, Ministry of Transport, Kenya National Highways Authority (KENHA), County Government and civil society organizations in Isiolo, Mr. Kanyiri said security measures are in place according to the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by the government and the development partners.
He said the project would be implemented through North Eastern Transport Improvement Project (NETIP) and being financed by the government and International Development Association (IDA) while Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) being the implementing agency.
The County Commissioner and various leaders from the region warned that alcoholism and prostitution vises are frowned upon in virtually all the centres where the road will pass, adding that the project workers will have to refrain from such behaviors to avoid apathy from the native communities.
He urged the implementing companies to consider the local people who apply for jobs that they qualify to undertake.
“The unskilled jobs will definitely be given to the locals, who should also embrace experts from other places who will be on board to provide the technical knowhow,” Mr. Kanyiri added.
The Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC) CEO Mohamed Guleid said that if elders notice the birth of children sired by foreigners like the Chinese among the local girls, the conflict that could arise from such a scenario alone could jeopardize the entire project given the weight with which locals uphold religion and tradition.
He also called upon the project implementers to work closely with the local elders in order to avoid interfering with respected places like graves and mosques while constructing the road, as that could also cause discomfort among the host communities.
Mr. James Theuri from the Ministry of Transport said that the local communities will also benefit from internet services as a fibre optic cable will also be installed along the entire road.
He added that social amenities like hospitals and schools will also be constructed as part of the project that is meant to open up the entire Northern Kenya region for major development.
Construction of the road has been funded through partnership between the World Bank and the National government to a tune of more than 500 million Dollars.
This could be the largest road development project in the region traversing five counties of Isiolo, Meru, Wajir, Garissa and Mandera.