By Standard Reporter
Roads minister Franklin Bett says the dilapidated Sekenani-Mara Road, the gate to world’s famous Masai Mara Game Reserve will be fixed by a Chinese Contractor.
The Minister said his ministry will soon sign a financing deal with the Chinese firm Jiangxi Zhongmei Engineering Construction Company to upgrade the road.
“I dispatched top Ministry of Roads officials to China, led by my PS and they were able to negotiate good project financing agreements”, he said.
He was speaking on a local TV Station on the state of Kenyan Roads countrywide. Bett also announced that all national trunk roads will be managed by the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) once County Governments are in place.
Speaking during a breakfast interview aired by a local television station, Bett clarified that Class A, B and C roads that links the country to its neighbours and all major towns in Kenya will not revert to County Governments as the State implements the new Constitution.
He said County governments would only manage feeder roads since major roads are national assets.
The minister said all contracts will be completed in time. “Our primary objective is to ensure that government and indeed tax payers get value for money. This can only be achieved through quality workmanship in all the projects and also timely deliver of works,” he said.
Bett said the authorities will assume all the responsibilities for quality, maintenance and adherence to stipulated axle loads as prescribed under the new Traffic Act.
The minister’s comments come at a time when the Government is implementing major road works in the country. Last week, the World Bank (WB) gave Kenya a road grant of Sh25.2 billion ($300 million) to fund the Urban Transport project geared towards decongesting the city.
The Bank approved the project, dubbed the National Urban Improvement Project last Thursday.
Bett also contested reports that the road was impassable as alleged by tour operators. He assured that tourists visiting the Mara were safe.
“We have put in place major reforms in the roads sector as evidenced by the quality road works being undertaken by various road agencies in the country,” Bett said. “Sections of the Mara-Sekenani road have challenges, but it is still motorable. In the meantime, we will have a contract on sight in a few weeks to fix the road once and for all,” the minister said.
Bett observed that genuine title owners on Thika Road have been compensated for loss of business as a result of the construction of the superhighway. He said the law was clear on the acquisition of private land and said his ministry has always applied the law to the letter.
Bett said the ministry will neither negotiate nor compensate people who occupy road reserves. “I have instructed KeNHA and other road agencies to acquire title deeds for all road reserves to secure them against land grabbers,” he said. It will help expand the capacity of Uhuru Highway in Nairobi’s Central Business District and fund by-pases in Meru and Kisumu.
The State will invest Sh12.5 billion to supplement the WB investment. “This project will help Nairobi retain its image as the regional business hub and beyond,” said Johannes Zutt, the WB Country Director.