The Origins of the Roads in the
area where the Kamba people settled in the 1970s and 1980s was
originally just bush land. There were some roads as it lies
close to the Tsavo East Game Reserve but there were not even
any tracks where they first settled so they had to begin a transport
infrastructure from scratch. Many of the early settlers lost
all the animals they owned very quickly because they were not
used to the diseases of the new area and had not developed immunity
to them. Drought was also a severe problem. In recent years
there have been times when it has not rained for two years consecutively.
Some of the settlers went back to their original homes in Machakos,
about 180 km north, because they were quickly disillusioned
by the harshness of the area.
As they lost so much of value, they were extremely poor initially.
So, there had to be a good reason for opening up a new road
or track. It had to lead somewhere specific e.g. a school, church,
market. Opening up a road simply meant cutting back the bush.
There was no financial support from any government agencies.
The people formed themselves into groups, they held community
days and some were dedicated to road clearing. A "road"
is therefore often a cleared track.
Once the roads were established, some in the area were eventually
classified, so they are now theoretically maintained. In practice,
local people still fill in the worst of the ruts and holes with
soil and hard core on designated days. They may be paid in kind
e.g. with food.