The Chinese-built road tarmacking of the 130km Turbi-Moyale road by a Chinese firm, which connects Kenya and Ethiopia, is poised to unlock economic opportunities in Kenya’s northern county of Marsabit, and the country as a whole.
“The road has become a purveyor of opportunity and widened possibilities for the region that has hitherto lagged behind in development,” said Walda Jattani, a local government administrator in the county.
The 130-km road is also part of the stretch from Marsabit to the capital Nairobi.
“It greatly eases travelling from Marsabit to Nairobi that used to take three days, but now take one day,” he added.
The road is part of a Trans-Africa Highway, which starts from Cairo in Egypt to Cape Town in South Africa.
It is being upgraded to bitumen standards by the Kenyan government with support of the African Development Bank and China Exim Bank.
The road, which is set to be completed by June, is being constructed by the Chinese firm Wuyi.
The region used to be characterized by intermittent communal fights and prolonged ethnic clashes. Police keep regular patrols in areas that were not accessible a few months ago.
Even the Chinese firm was forced several times in the past to suspend the construction work after rival communities resorted to attacking, burning and looting vehicles along the road.
However, the road that was often referred to as “the road of death and terror” is now a road of opportunity for Marsabit County.
“We appreciate the tarmacking of the road that has helped improve development in the area,” said Jattani, adding that it also becomes “faster and safer” for school children to travel to other parts of the country to attend colleges and secondary schools thanks to the new road.
“This (upgraded) road has greatly improved security of this region, and we now access and respond effectively to any emergencies and cases of attack,” Richard Korgoren, District Officer in Moyale told Xinhua.
The road has also opened up the towns in the Upper Eastern part of Kenya to trade, and helped boost trade amongst locals and people from other parts of the country.
“It will open the region to a wider market that includes Ethiopia’s market that has a population of almost 100 million people,” Ali Nur Mumin, the Chairman of the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Moyale said.
He said Moyale is due to become a port of entry for goods from other neighboring and business partners.
The Chinese-built road coupled with abundance in natural resources, will also make Marsabit County an attractive area to investors, Mumin added.