The government is set to build a bridge on the Enziu River in Kitui following the tragic accident on Sunday.
Infrastructure PS Paul Mainga on Tuesday told MPs that the ministry had secured Sh500 million for the construction of the bridge whose work is expected to start in January.
The ill-fated bus was taking a church choir and other guests to a wedding in Kitui on Saturday when it was swept by fast-flowing waters as the driver tried to navigate a submerged bridge.
Appearing before the National Assembly’s Committee on Roads and Transport yesterday, Prof Mainga told MPs that the ministry had been having budgetary challenges to fund the construction of bridges across the country.
“It is true this bridge has been having a problem but budgeting has been an issue to us but I can confirm that the notification for the contract has gone out and we will sign a contract in the next three weeks. We will then give the contractor two weeks to mobilise resources before he gets to the site to start the work in January,” he said.
According to the PS, the construction of the bridge is supposed to take two years but will be fast-tracked due to the oncoming long rains.
In addition to the bridge, the PS also said the government would erect signposts in the area and bring traffic marshals to caution residents against crossing the river when it is flooded.
The government will also build waiting areas around the river for travellers to rest while waiting for the water to subside should the river be flooded again.
“We have realised this particular river, people have no places for resting and holding as they wait for the waters to subside. In this particular case, we are told the people waited in a bus for two hours. You can imagine sitting in a bus for two hours. It’s not comfortable at all,” said Prof Mainga.
“When facing flood water, we need to strain ourselves. We need to tell our people that they should not cross the bridge when it’s flooded.”
In a bid to avoid recurrence of such incidents, the PS told the MPs to set aside a budget for the building of bridges.
“Currently, the Kenya National Highways Authority has no budget for that purpose. We have to mobilise funds in order to build bridges,” said Prof Mainga.