Kitui County, the sixth-largest in Kenya, faces a significant challenge in repairing its extensive road network damaged by El Nino rains due to a severely insufficient budget. The county, covering 30,520 square kilometers, boasts over 12,000 kilometers of roads, necessitating annual maintenance for its interconnected villages.

In comparison to other large but sparsely populated counties, like Marsabit, Kitui’s road network maintenance requirements far exceed the available budget. With only Sh441 million allocated for road maintenance across 40 wards, Kitui County can address a mere 16 percent of its total road network, leaving more than 9,000 kilometers unattended.

Benjamin Chamia, Chief Officer of Kitui County Roads and Public Works, highlights the fiscal challenge, emphasizing that the allocated budget can restore less than 20 percent of the roads damaged by El Nino rains. Furthermore, the allocation is expected to cover pending bills from previous years, aggravating the financial shortfall.

To address the budget constraints, Kitui County has initiated a program to grade 70 kilometers of roads in each electoral ward by June through the Community Level Infrastructure Development Projects. The county plans to use its heavy machinery for road grading instead of relying on private contractors. Despite these efforts, only 2,800 kilometers of the total road network can be repaired, leaving a significant portion unattended.

The budgetary allocation for county roads has been a contentious issue between Governor Julius Malombe and the County Assembly. Last year, a budget standoff occurred as MCAs protested reduced development allocations. The disagreement centered on the reallocation of funds for roads and payment of pending bills, further complicating Kitui County’s efforts to address its road infrastructure challenges.

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