Kenya has floated an international tender for construction of the Isiolo-Mandera road. The Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) made the announcement and said the tender will cover two sections of the road. The road project represents the government’s plan to open up north eastern Kenya which has remained isolated economically from the rest of the country due to lack of access roads and other infrastructure.
At a cost of US $841m, the Isiolo-Mandera highway will be the single largest infrastructure project in northern Kenya and one of the most expensive roads in the country.
The 748km road highway project traverses five counties of Isiolo, Meru, Wajir, Garissa and Mandera. 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 tender contract will cover the first section between Isiolo and Kulamawe (77km) while the second part is the 127km Kulamawe-Modogashe road. Charles Njogu, KeNHA assistant director of corporate communications, said after opening of the bids, they will be evaluated and the contract awarded to the winner with construction projected to start later this year. The bids will close on April 28.
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.
The road is currently 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.
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.