Motorists stranded after heavy rains destroy part of Kapenguria-Lodwar road

Traffic on the Kitale-Kapenguria-Lodwar-Juba highway was disrupted after a section at Lous trading centre in West Pokot County was destroyed by flash floods.

The worst affected road users are teachers and students returning to school for the second term, and traders at major centres in Kainuk, Lokichar, Lodwar, Kakuma and Lokichoggio towns who depend on Kitale and Kapenguria towns for fruits, grains and vegetables.

A public service vehicle driver, John Logiron, said the section was destroyed around midnight, forcing them to spend the night in the cold.

“Most of the stranded passengers are teachers and students travelling to Turkana ahead of the resumption of school. Those who deal in fresh agricultural produce are now afraid to deliver rotten vegetables and fruits.

Other sections of road where transport has been disrupted include the Kalemngorok drift between Kainuk and Lokichar, and a section between Karoge and Kasuroi along the Lodwar – Lokichar highway.

West Pokot County Commissioner, Khalif Abdulahi, said authorities responded swiftly after the incident was reported.

“Upon receiving reports of the incident, the authorities quickly dispatched traffic police from Marich Police Station to the affected area,” he said.

He stressed the urgent need to ease the growing traffic congestion and explore alternative routes to ease the plight of stranded travellers.

“We understand the gravity of the situation, but we are addressing the crisis. Our priority is the safety and well-being of stranded travellers. We’re working tirelessly to find solutions and restore connectivity as quickly as possible,” he said.

Abdulahi appealed for patience from road users, saying the relevant authorities were exploring alternative routes to ease traffic.

In a warning, the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) advised all motorists plying the Lodwar – Lokichar road to exercise extreme caution when approaching the bridge between Karoge and Kasuroi.

“Recent heavy rains have caused damage to a section of the road on the Lokichar side of the bridge. Repairs are underway and police are on site to direct traffic. Motorists are still urged to drive safely and follow the instructions of the personnel on site,” KeNHA said.

A resident of Kalemngorok, Esther Ajuma, said that now that Lodwar and other major towns depend on Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu counties for most of their basic commodities, without a reliable bridge at Kalemngorok and other seasonal rivers between Lokichar and Kapenguria, it will continue to be a major problem.

Ms Ajuma said that the location is one of the region’s bandit hotspots, and when the river floods, they are shut off from Lodwar, the county’s headquarters on which they rely for basic health care and humanitarian help.

Mr James Kisike, another resident, stated that they had consistently petitioned the national government through the Kenya National Highway Authority to build a bridge across the dry river bed.

“We need the bridge to also facilitate security patrols during the rainy seasonal because police officers based at Lokichar always reinforce whenever there is a bandit attack,” stated Kisike.

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