1 October 2008

Kenya: Contractors Flush Taxpayers' Sh200 Million Down the Tarmac

Nairobi — Taxpayers lost Sh200 million when the tarmac on the Nakuru -Kianjoya road started warping after the contractor had built 25 kilometres.

The contractor, who has since died, was contracted to build 40 kilometres of the Nakuru-Mau Narok road to open up the high agricultural potential of Kiambogo, Kianjoya, Ol Jorai and Kiptangwanyi areas.

But the thin tarmac layer has started peeling off and is being washed away by rain.

Since 1999, the tarmac has disappeared, leaving behind patches which drivers have been dodging for the past decade.

Many motorists headed to Mau Narok from Nakuru avoid driving on the rugged Kianjoya road and instead take a detour using the Nakuru, Njoro road. This is an extra 25 kilometres.

Roads engineer

Most matatus on the Kianjoya route make just a single trip per day due to the poor condition of the road.

The Government ordered the contractor to redo the job in 2002 but this did not happen.

The Nakuru district roads engineer at the time, Mr M.K. Cheruiyot, told the press that the road was poorly designed and did not have proper drainage.

He exonerated the contractor and blamed government officials who designed the road.

"It was an oversight on the part of designers. The initial design was poor, " Mr Cheruiyot told the Nation in 2002.

Our investigations showed that the Government will award another contract this year but the money allocated can only cover 25 of the 40 kilometre road.

"The cash will only cover the 25 kilometres section between Nakuru and Elmentaita," a source at the Ministry of Public Works told the Nation.

Build properly

According to the source, the cost of tarmacking a kilometre of road was estimated to be between Sh30 million and Sh50 million depending on its condition.

The reconstruction of the Naivasha-Nakuru stretch cost Sh6.1 billion. Former Naivasha MP Jayne Kihara said she had been following the progress of the road and lamented that it had been too slow.

She regretted that the failure to have had the road built properly almost 10 years ago had impacted negatively on development in the region.

The poor maintenance of roads in Nakuru District also affects the Nakuru Municipal Council where a number are in pathetic condition.

Roads such as George Morara Avenue in the town's Industrial Area and Mburu Gichua Road within the Central Business District have gaping potholes.

Shoddy road construction in the town has been blamed on previous laws which allowed councillors to sit in tender committees. Some of the civic leaders are known to influence the award of tenders.

Some government officials have also been accused of favouring their friends or enlisting their companies in road construction.

Ensure fairness

Sources said the new Roads Act 2007 elbowed out councillors from tender committees to ensure fairness.

The Act now requires all roads in the country, including those controlled by local authorities, to be under new authorities.

These are Kenya National Roads Authority, Kenya Urban Roads and the Kenya Rural Roads Authority.

Roads assistant minister Lee Kinyanjui said the authorities were created to prevent duplicity and address particular needs. However, he emphasised that some of roads were not under their jurisdiction.

He described that category as "orphaned roads" whose rehabilitation is usually supported by foreign donors.

He said in the past, decisions on road construction were made in Nairobi but the situation had since changed since district roads committees comprise MPs, councillors and representatives of key road users.

The committees assess local needs in regard to road construction. They receive an estimated Sh17 million from the Government each financial year to rehabilitate murram roads.

In Nakuru Town, sections of the Kenyatta Lane and K.S. Bedi Road are in a deplorable condition despite some funds having been allocated for repairs.

A former civic leader whose construction company was awarded a tender to repair the lane which is in the Central Business District did a shoddy job.

Council sources, however, say that funds from the Kenya Roads Board will soon be allocated to redo some roads in the town.

The Nation established that the work on some of the roads would start this month. During the last financial year, the Municipal council used Sh65 million to rehabilitate roads from the Fuel Levy fund.

So far, 19 roads in various estates have been gravelled by the council through the fuel levy. Mr Kinyanjui said for the past five years, more than Sh180 billion had been pumped into road projects across the country.

In 2002-03, the Government allocated the Roads Department Sh5 billion which increased to Sh65 billion in the 2008/9.

The Kenya Roads Board periodically places advertisement of the roads earmarked for construction and rehabilitation in the media and the money allocated for the job.

Copyright © 2008 The Nation. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.