Murimi Mutiga @murimimutiga
Bamba, a dusty remote village in Kilifi county is immortalised in the song Safari ya Bamba ni Machero, which bemoaned the hitherto desolate condition of area roads.
Bamba has been the face of poverty and hunger in the country with residents relying on relief supplies over the years despite its huge irrigation potential because of its proximity to river Sabaki, which drains into the Indian Ocean.
Residents, who have had to walk for kilometres to access basic commodities such as water, now have a reason to smile.
The Rural Electrification Programme has seen the area connected to the grid, thereby, lighting up Bamba trading centre that has also gotten its first tarmac road following the completion of the Sh2.2 billion Mariakani-Bamba road.
Emmanuel Nzai, a 72-year-old resident, said he never thought he would see a tarmacked road pass through the dusty and “forgotten” village.
He said the newly-tarmacked road will not only open up the area but will greatly help improve the lives of mothers and children, who have endured agony while trying to access far-away medical facilities.
“Women had to be ferried in carts to give birth in hospital. This road will reduce child mortality rates and maternal deaths during delivery,” he said.
Kadzo Charo, a cereal trader, said the road will help traders and farmers take their produce to the market on time and in good condition.
Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) Kilifi manager Eng Benson Masila said the road’s upgrade will change the area’s economy.
He said the 45km road and the tarmacking of Kilifi-Kiwandani road will help improve connectivity and reduce travel time in the region.
Other ongoing road projects in the county include the 36km Marikebuni-Marafa road and the 117km Malindi-Sala gate road, all at Sh5.6 billion.
Construction of the Sh4.1 billion Malindi-Sala gate road project is expected to help revive tourism in Kilifi.
Masila said in the low volume seal-road projects, the government aims to upgrade rural road networks to all-weather bitumen standards while reducing costs. He the said dams constructed during the road tarmacking are now water sources for residents.