Monday, January 28, 2008

Dusty and Muddy Roads that are our daily nightmare

The main roads to our village are usually a red river of mud or a hail of dust which translates to mud during the rainy season when just about every bend on the track has some sort of bus, car or truck in difficulty in the mud. You just slide, you're not even driving. You have no control. Sometimes vehicles have to be pulled out with a tractor.

These roads are a convincing simulation of purgatory even in the dry season. Each vehicle that passes raises a billowing cloud of fine dust that lingers long in the still, hot air. I choke through my handkerchief while the dust settles as walking proves to be an obstacle course. Winds gusting to 30 to 35 miles per hour during the dry season make the place dusty all the time.
The Village Director, Mr. Peter Mungai who is a life-long resident of Eldoret, says the roads have been a real nightmare for a long time particularly when it rains. "I've heard the talk for a long time that the municipal council was going to blacktop these bunch of roads," Mr. Mungai says. But that has never happened.

Instead time and again the old dirt roads are topped with red clay. "The dirt's been on there far too long," one resident from the neighborhood says. "There's supposed to be tarmac on top of it".
Driving to the village is treacherous in wet conditions and Stephen Ndalu, our village driver has gotten used to this kind of weather. There is no way he can avoid using these roads. On the one occasion that our driver attempted to pass a stricken vehicle on a bend, with us on board, our van slid into an impossible position close to a ditch. We had to abandon the vehicle and walk.

Dozens of our neighbors have also been stuck on the road whenever it rains. They have to be pulled by a tractor.. Our main worry here is what would happen if someone living around here would have an emergency. There's no way an ambulance or any type of rescue vehicle could come in here without getting stuck. Even some taxi operators refuse to pick up here. In some instances, our school is forced to close early as school buses struggle to get students home.

The state of the roads leading to the village can be aptly described by an encounter I had while traveling to town sometime back. I was sitting in our pick up when I suddenly was projected up into the air and I landed hard. I attempted with all my might to hold back the tears but the pain was intense; they spilled out profusely. Driving in the more comfortable van, the middle seat still requires great effort to stay balanced. But soon we hope to have a 4 wheel drive to overcome this.

It's supposed to rain again pretty shortly, so we need to put down a load of rocks or other hard core to help us get in and out.

By Fredrick Ochieng - youth leader co-ordinator

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