Multi-billion-shilling legacy projects by President Uhuru Kenyatta are getting his full attention.
The contractors are working round the clock to complete the mega projects before President Kenyatta exits office in August.
According to sources, updates on the progress of the legacy projects in his backyard, which includes roads and dams, are made daily to the President Delivery Unit.
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Among the projects is the Sh27 billion Mau Mau cluster roads connecting the counties of Kiambu, Murangá, Nyeri and Nyandarua. It covers 540 kilometres.
There is also the dualling of the 84 kilometres Kenol-Sagana-Marua carriageway on the Great North highway. The Sh30 billion highway stretches from Kenol Township through Makutano and Sagana in Kirinyaga County and Kambiti in Machakos and Marua.
Uhuru is also keen on launching mega dams at Thiba in Kirinyaga County and the Kariminu Dam in Gatundu North.
Also forgotten but tucked right in Mt Kenya region is the Sh17 billion Western Bypass project that covers 34 kilometres. The road links Nairobi’s Northern Bypass at Ruaka and the Southern Bypass at Gitaru town.
According to Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA), the project, which includes the construction of seven interchanges at Gitaru, Lower Kabete, Wangige, Kihara, Ndenderu, Rumenye and Ruaka, is at 86 per cent and is set to be completed in September 2022.
Once the third ring-road bypass is launched, the authority is optimistic that the travel time between Gitaru and Ruaka will drop from 35 minutes to just 15 minutes.
While citing the completed Sh6 billion bypasses (including Sh1 million link roads) in Meru, political commentator James Mithika said yesterday the president had done well for the region, proving wrong the doubting Thomases.
There is also the Kenol-Marua road being built simultaneously by two contractors who recently adopted 24-hour operation on some sections.
Progress on the project, which snakes from Murangá County, through the edge of Embu into Kirinyaga and terminates at Nyeri, shows a significant reduction of traffic gridlock due to the opening of the almost completed sections.
KeNHA chairman Wangai Ndirangu said the road is 70 per cent complete on one side of the dual carriageway between Sagana and Marua and 100 per cent complete on one side of the dual carriageway between Kenol-Sagana.
“The Sagana-Marua section has faced many challenges, including delayed relocations from the areas acquired to expand the road corridor from 40 to 60 metres and avoiding large-scale disruptions of livelihoods,” said Wangai.
He said it is hilly terrain, and more excavation works were required, which were further slowed down by short rains.
But he said the Kenol-Sagana progress had seen considerable progress because the terrain was less challenging and the existing corridor was intact.
“The interchange to Embu-Meru is already in progress,” he said, adding that the contractors were encouraged to establish 24-hour shifts to speed up the progress. But Wangai put at 30 per cent the progress on the Mau Mau road, which is located in the hillier and challenging terrain of the Aberdare tea zone.
“Excavation has been slowed by the rains. You can’t lay tarmac during long rains,” he said.
For both projects, KeNHA projects to move the progress to 50 per cent by March and 100 per cent by August.
For the water projects, the Mwea Irrigation Project, which targets to double rice production through enabling the cultivation of the two-season crop, is 47 per cent complete, according to the Presidential Delivery Unit.
The project targets to increase the acreage of land under irrigation from 10,000 to 35,000 acres, benefiting 7,044 farmers.
Works on Thiba Dam - which has a 15 million cubic metres capacity- at Sh8.2 billion is also being sped up for completion by mid this year.
Head of Corporate Communications at National Irrigation Authority, Daniel Nzonzo said the Thiba project is 91 per cent complete. The dam and spillway are complete and ready for harnessing water.
“All critical components are complete but the major gate valve imported from Germany has delayed its completion,” Nzonzo said.
Once complete, the authority projects that the number of farmers will rise from 125,000 to 175,000 and annual rice earnings rise from Sh9 billion to over 16 billion.
The dam will support a further economy of Sh4 billion in seasonal crops such as tomatoes, carrots and capsicum.
President Uhuru, in his new year address, promised an end to water shortages in Nairobi as his government seeks to complete the Nairobi Metro Area Bulk water supply from Ruiru II Dam in upper Githunguri in Kiambu County.
The Sh25 billion project targeting the population of 600,000 and with a Treatment Capacity of 40,000 million cubic metres a day is at 5 per cent completion.
The Sh27.1 billion Karimenu II dam in Gatundu North, which targets 700,000 households in Juja, Ruiru and Athi River with a Treatment Capacity of 70,000 million litres a day, is 69 per cent complete.
According to Athi Water Works Development Agency Mwangi Thuita, compensation for landowners had delayed the completion of a pipeline that will bring water to consumers in the Nairobi Metropolitan Area.
The agency wants to increase the existing wayleave of nine-metre to 15 metres between the Ngethu Water Works to Gigiri to accommodate increased steel pipes bringing water from Northern Collector Water Tunnel and Kariminu.