Taking a sick person to the Kijabe Mission Hospital a few years ago, one was amazed at the deplorable condition of what looked like a colonial-era road, branching from the Nairobi-Nakuru highway.
The road meanders in a steep decline through a wooded stretch and going downhill one’s foot is almost continually on the brakes pedal, which is just a minor nuisance compared to the surface of the road. The road that was once tarmacked (most likely by those who ‘opened up’ Kijabe), was full of gaping potholes and as it’s narrow, one could not avoid the craters. A journey that would have taken us minutes, ended up taking us hours.
Luckily, the patient was not critical, but one wonders whether a pregnant woman or a critically injured person would endure the journey from Gichiengo on the highway to the mission hospital even if one was being driven in a limo. And this has been the bane of Kijabe for years.
Distressingly, the road leads to some of the most historical institutions in this country, including the AIC Kijabe Hospital, the Kijabe boys’ and girls’ high schools and the prestigious Rift Valley Academy. Being an AIC institution, a church organisation that retired President Daniel Moi loved to assist, one is surprised that the road to this small non-alcoholic town was left in such disrepair for so long.
Because of the deteriorating state of public and some mission medical facilities and the inaccessibly pricey private hospitals, Kijabe serves many parts of Central, Rift Valley and beyond. It is however shocking that President Mwai Kibaki, the man who built the Thika superhighway, saw no sense in repairing this short stretch.
The current government has awarded contracts for the repair of the road and contractors are on site, but the work that was supposed to be completed by December last year is still dragging on. Recently, residents staged a demonstration, protesting the slow pace of the construction work and, according to one newspaper report, area MP Mburu Kahangara, joined them, as “It was very difficult to explain the issue to residents and [so] I decided to join them in protesting”.
The construction was supposedly halted because of the El Nino rains, but Kahangara also brought out the issue of re-designing, as the reason one of the contractors would not resume works, something he repeated on a television talk show recently.
Sections of the Githunguri-Ruiru Dam-Kamburu Road that goes all the way to Kimende where it joins the Nairobi-Nakuru highway are impassable.
Neighbouring Githunguri has its share of a crumbling road network. In fact, very little has been done to rehabilitate the infrastructure in the whole of Kiambu, even as funds ‘rain’ down to the grassroots in these devolution times. Not all roads have been devolved, but the county government has done very little about those that have.
Let the MPs, MCAs and the residents of Kiambu demand that Governor William Kabogo does the roads properly.
One would have hoped that before he left the Sagana State Lodge, President Uhuru Kenyatta would have made a presidential pronouncement about the road under construction.
Njonjo Kihuria is a freelance journalist. [email protected]