Construction of 32 km Eldoret Southern Bypass in Uasin Gishu has resumed after the government began resolving the compensation disputes that had stopped the contractor from progressing with work. The government launched construction in August 2017, but complaints about non-compensation by over 1000 families that were to be displaced caused the stopping of the Ksh 5.1 billion project.
Controversy about selective payment to landowners where the road will pass started dogging the project since the beginning. In July 2018, the National Land Commission (NLC) announced it was facing difficulties when resolving land and boundary disputes between the County Government of Uasin Gishu and property owners. The NLC later began discussions with affected partiers in search of a solution and even had an agreement on the way forward to allow China Wu Yi Company Limited to start the road construction works.
However, the project stalled again in January 2020 after the eruption of a fresh compensation row. The affected landowners complained they “had not got paid three years after signing a compensation deal with the government.” The landowners wanted a further 30 percent interest on delayed payments. They threatened to terminate the contracts they signed with the NLC and Kenya National Highways Authority (KenHA) to surrender their land to allow road construction. To revive the project, the government disbursed Ksh 1.4 billion and set plans to release another Ksh 1.3 billion in the subsequent months.
The compensation disputes became a cause of concern to the government since they affected the completion timeline that KenHA had set for August 2021. Uasin Gishu county commissioner at the time, Abdirisack Jaldesa, said the contractor had built “about six kilometers of road and contractor was working to complete major interchanges on Kisumu and Bungoma Roads.” He also announced the government was sorting most of the problems relating to compensation, and the contractor was back on site.
Eldoret Southern Bypass selective compensation accusations
The landowners, on their part, claim that the compensation is questionable because some received their payment soon after the project launch, but others had not received anything. A resident Edwin Rotich claims some of the landowners who got pay went to complain about the delay in Nairobi and wondered if “all should travel to Nairobi to get rightful compensation.”
The county commissioner attributed payment delay to land succession cases because only the rightful owner should get payment after NLC confirms the authenticity of land ownership documents.
The residents, however, agree that the bypass is suitable for their economy. Eldoret Southern Bypass is one of the signature projects by the Jubilee Government in the North Rift. It is a project funded by African Development Bank, starting at Ngeria on Eldoret-Nakuru road and ending at Maili Tisa, where it joins Uganda Road. The bypass passes through Kapseret near Eldoret airport.
The bypass intends to decongest the Eldoret town by diverting vehicles, especially long-distance trucks, from the Uganda highway that passes through the town center. The contractor has so far completed three of the seven bridges planned on the new road.