It is a key road that links western Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and the eastern DRC to the Kenyan port of Mombasa. But the state of the Kisumu-Busia “highway” does not exemplify its economic importance to the wider east African region. Potholes, dangerously narrow stretches, and encroachment by vendors are some of the many things that are wrong with the Kisumu-Busia highway. The many accidents that occur on the road tell it all. Last Tuesday I witnessed the aftermath of an accident in the town of Ugunja in Ugenya when on a visit to my aunt’s in Got Osimbo. A tanker swerved while trying to avoid oncoming traffic. As always happens, locals rushed to the scene with containers to siphon away fuel. The fuel caught fire and burnt many stalls that line the road in Ugunja town and a section of the famous St. Michael’s Hotel. As far as I know there was only one fatality – thanks to the fact that the tanker was carrying diesel and not the more inflammable petrol. It is not that long ago when similar accidents in Sidindi and Sachangwan caused the death of dozens of people who were trying to loot fuel.
I can’t stop asking myself: HOW HARD CAN IT BE? How hard can it be for the four countries that depend on this key road to get their act together and construct a proper road?