The residents and their businesses to the Northern part of Kenya are finally breathing with a sigh of relief, thanks to the ongoing construction of the South Sudan Link Road.
The 338 Kilometre road project is one of the Government’s biggest infrastructural intervention geared towards regional integration with the North, through South Sudan.
This road, which is part of the East Africa Regional Transport, Trade and Development Facilitation Project, is a grand achievement birthed by a partnership between the Government of Kenya and the World Bank.
Today, the North is beaming with a tinge of freshness of a road that has left both the local and the international community talking. Those who enjoy road trips, the South Sudan Link Road should be at the very top of that priority list. The road which majorly cuts through Turkana County, serves the fresh image of dark tarmac slicing through the arid plains of the County, carrying with it hope for a better future for the people of Turkana and Kenya as a whole.
Motorists are treated to a sample of unique workmanship on this road at the Kainuk Bridge. The new bridge that towers over the old bridge right next to it, was a much-needed intervention at a section of the road that rendered the County of Turkana and the Northern part of Kenya inaccessible. One would not have to dig far into the archives to uncover the horror that the absence this bridge posed to the region. Had it not been the intervention on this section of the road, the South Sudan Link Road project, which begins in Lokichar and ends in Nakodok, would have been in vain.
In Lokichar town, there is evidence of a revived North; matatus ferrying people to Lodwar, Kakuma and back. In retrospect, this is almost a miracle to behold. Prior to the road works, these areas were riddled with banditry, full of thugs who often took advantage of the poor road condition to terroriser travellers. The County Commissioner of Turkana County, Muthama Wambua, concedes that previously, there was an average of two vehicles attacked in a day. Today, he says, for more than a year, there has not been a single attack.
If you have not been to Lodwar town, brace yourself for a pleasant experience. Right at the edge of the town as you drive in, is Turkana University. Perhaps a symbol of hope for a solid future. On the horizon are pointy hills piercing into the sky ushering in the aeroplanes landing in Lodwar airport. In short, Lodwar is a big deal!
The journey From Lodwar to Lokitaung’, especially by road, is characterized by a flawless drive that treats incomers to the expansive plains of Turkana. The expansive dry plains may be deceptive, and this is indicated by the numerous bridge structures which facilitate the heavy drainage needs in the region. Out of the initial two major bridge structures that were along this road, a total of 33 major bridges will now be used along the road.
If Lodwar town surprises you, Kakuma will knock you flat on your back. Kakuma is a vibrant town showing all the signs of evolving into a city. Retailers and wholesalers sprawl all over the town with trucks ferrying goods, telling of the economic potential that is in Kakuma. These developments may seem ordinary elsewhere but are truly a miracle for a region that was almost inaccessible less than a decade ago. Talk of the role of infrastructure in economic development, and the North is a solid example.