Lelan farmers, traders decry the poor state of roads

The poor state of the road in Lelan Ward in West Pokot County has affected agricultural business

Over 300 farmers and business people in Lelan ward, Pokot South Sub County are counting huge losses after the road connecting Saramee, Cheparten–Kaptabuk was rendered impassable following the heavy rainfall that hit the area for four consecutive days.

Milk farmers have lost more than 250,000 litres of milk and fresh produce like vegetables were spoilt after accessibility to the market was affected by the poor state of the road.

Pokot South Sub County has a high rate of milk production, with 50 litres of milk produced per day, and at the moment losses range around millions of shillings. Fresh produce isn’t being transported to the markets in time, given that residents have resorted to donkeys as a means of transport.

Farmers from the area who grow Irish potatoes, pyrethrum, cabbages, have voiced their frustrations and have urged the government to intervene, given that agriculture is their main source of income.

Mr. Jackson Mnangat, who is a farmer, said the area’s economy is being affected by the poor state of the roads, which has affected businesses.

Mnang’at confirmed that dairy farmers have no other option but to use donkeys to transport their milk to cooling plants and sometimes the milk gets spoilt due to the long, slow distance travelling. “Many farmers in the area are now involved in agricultural business and they need good roads to transport their produce,” he said.

A dairy farmer from Tapach, Samuel Korinyang, who walks more than 15 kilometres said the roads can’t be used to access Kabichibich and Kapenguria towns because of the pathetic state.

“We depend on farming for our survival. Onion, potatoes, vegetables are perishable goods. The government has neglected us and the Ministry in charge has failed,” said Korinyang.

West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo and Lelan Ward representative Mr. Johnston Lokato who visited the area said residents in other areas in the County are starving as the area is the County’s food basket, and it’s also a vital source of food for the neighbouring Counties.

“Traders who normally come from Kitale, Eldoret, and Elgeyo Marakwet are not coming anymore,” said Lonyangapuo.

The Governor faulted the Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) for failing to maintain and rehabilitate the road.

“The Government allocates millions of money to KeRRA every year but they have failed to rehabilitate the roads in the area. Other roads agencies like Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) and Kenya Highway Roads Authority (KeNHA) are also doing a shoddy job,” he said.

Furthermore, he said KeNHA hasn’t rehabilitated the Kitale–Lodwar highway which links Kenya to Southern Sudan and travellers are suffering as a result. “Disaster management agencies should quickly intervene to save the situation in Lelan and Tapach wards,” he said.