, ISIOLO, Kenya, Jul 30 – The huge investment in infrastructural development in the country is intended to boost regional trade and ensure cost-effective movement of both goods and people, President Mwai Kibaki has said.
Speaking on Friday during the official opening of the Isiolo-Merille River Road , President Kibaki noted that with accelerated regional cooperation the Government was determined to strengthen linkages with neighbouring countries to facilitate faster cross-border trade.
The Head of State remarked: “I am aware that the investment required for construction of the over 500-kilometre highway is very high.”
“My government will continue investing huge resources in our infrastructure projects. Such investment is necessary to enable our people to travel and do business.”
Emphasising that the Isiolo-Moyale road is the main road link between Kenya and Ethiopia, President Kibaki said that the upgrading of the road to a modern highway would promote trade between the two countries.
The modern highway was also expected to facilitate Kenyans to access the Ethiopian market of an estimated population of 80 million people apart from opening up the Northern Kenya for more trade and business, the Head of State observed.
“Moreover, in this age of regional cooperation, we are also strengthening linkages with our neighbouring countries so that our traders can move goods across the borders more easily and cost-effectively,” he stressed.
In this regard, the President stated that the upgrading of the highway was another milestone in government’s efforts to transform and improve infrastructure in the arid and semi-arid areas of the country.
The Head of State noted: “The Isiolo-Moyale Road is the main road link between Kenya and Ethiopia. The upgrading of this road to a modern highway is expected to enhance trade between our two countries, while at the same time opening up Northern Kenya for more trade and business.”
He, however, reminded Kenyans to bear in mind that the heavy investments in infrastructure development came with a responsibility to protect them from abuse or misuse.
The President urged local residents to cooperate and report to security agencies people found vandalizing or stealing road signs, street lights or guard rails among vital installations meant to bolster road safety.
Said President Kibaki: “As we continue to improve our road network, I wish to remind Kenyans that investments in infrastructure are very costly. It is, therefore, very important that we protect these investments from abuse or misuse.”
He particularly told transporters to protect Kenyan roads by desisting from overloading and to strictly adhere to the allowed load limits.
The President directed the Ministry of Roads and the Traffic department to remain vigilant and not to relent from ensuring that the axle load limits are strictly adhered to.
“I direct the Ministry of Roads and Traffic Police not to relent, but to remain firm in ensuring that the axle load limits are strictly adhered to,” President ordered.
During the occasion, President Kibaki thanked development partners particularly the African Development Bank for providing the Government with the funds for developing the road.
He affirmed that the support by the development partners to fund such projects was opportune as they are outlined in the implementation of the Vision 2030 flagship programmes.
The President promised: “Let me also assure you all that we will continue to ensure that the funds availed by our friends in support of development projects are utilized prudently for the agreed purposes.”
The newly tarmacked 136 kilometers road from Isiolo to Merille River has been upgraded to a two-lane tarmac road at a cost of about Sh6.3 billion.
During the tour, President Kibaki also distributed relief food to drought stricken residents of Samburu district and assured Kenyans in arid and semi-arid areas that the government will ensure continued distribution of
relief until the situation normalizes.
Addressing a roadside rally at Archers Post, President Kibaki called on residents of Samburu to shun retrogressive cultures particularly cattle rustling and to respect the rights of private property ownership.
The Head of State put cattle rustlers on notice warning that the government will ruthlessly deal with the few criminals who steal other people’s livestock among other illegal activities.
President Kibaki also agreed to meet Samburu leaders at later date to discuss development needs of their county.
Speaking during the same occasion, Prime Minister Raila Odinga echoed President Kibaki’s assurance to Kenyans affected by drought that the government will assist livestock owners whose animals have died due to the ravaging drought to restock.
Mr Odinga said the government was monitoring the drought situation and will continue with relief distribution to all the affected parts of the country.
Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka thanked President Kibaki for the massive infrastructural development in the country.
Mr Musyoka also reassured Kenyans in drought stricken areas of the country that the government will continue with the relief programme until the situation improved.
Roads Minister Franklin Bett thanked President Kibaki for improving roads in all parts of the country.
Mr Bett called upon motorists along the newly tarmacked Isiolo- Merille road and other improved highways to observe traffic rules and respect the rights of other road users.
Local leaders led by Assistant Minister Simon Lesirma paid glowing tribute to President Kibaki for spearheading one of the most ambitious infrastructural development programme in the entire country including the
Mr Lesirma at the same time denied reports that some people have died of hunger in Samburu County.
The Assistant Minister described reports appearing in sections of the press as misleading. He also assured that the government relief food will reach all the needy residents.
In attendance were Cabinet Ministers George Saitoti, Mohamed Elmi, several Assistant Ministers, current and former Members of Parliament and the Head of Public Service and Secretary to Cabinet Amb. Francis Muthaura among others.