|Road engineers inspect vandalised Thika Superhighway lighting system. The vice has cost agencies millions of shillings. [PHOTO: MARTIN MUKANGU]|
By JAMES ANYANZWA
The Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) is finalising on a Bill to curb vandalism of road infrastructure and related facilities.
The vice has affected fittings such as guard rails, lights and road furniture. The Vandalism Bill 2013 spells out stiffer penalties. In includes a minimum fine of Sh1 million or a jail term of five years or both.
Under the proposed law, scrap metal dealers will be required to declare the sources of their materials.
“We are working on the law on vandalism and we are involving all the stakeholders including power and water sectors,” said Eng Samuel Ogege, the authority’s General Manager in-charge of Design and Construction. “We have already presented the Bill to parliament.”
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This comes amid estimates that the Government is losing more than Sh1.2 million monthly to vandalism along Mombasa Road in Nairobi.
“I have given KeNHA instructions to deal with those encroaching on road reserves. Action must be taken against them,” said John Mosonik, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure.
Eng Mosonik revealed that the Government has already lost Sh50 million to vandalism along Thika Superhighway. This is barely a year since it was commissioned in November last year. The vandals are stealing lighting, steel and road sign facilities on the superhighway for quick sale, exposing motorists and pedestrians to great danger.
Vandalism of electric cables, transformers, streetlights, underground or surface fibre optic cables and road signs is considered a serious crime.
Kenya Power is also facing vandalism of transformers due to heavy demand for copper wire in the market. The power utility firm lost in excess of Sh2 million following the theft of transformers in parts of Murang’a County between May and June.
Automated weigh bridges
The firm recently said about 10 transformers were vandalised in two weeks in Murang’a in what seemed to be a systematic crime wave plotted by skilled vandals.
Fredrick Irungu, the head of Operations and maintenance at the Murang’a branch said the vandalised transformers cost about Sh200, 000 and when other expenses are factored in the loss escalates. The worst hit areas he said are Kigumo and Maragua Constituencies and Murang’a town.
KeNHA is also working towards introducing automated weighing machines at the weigh bridges to reduce clearance time for cargo trucks.
The first weigh-in motion scale will be commissioned at the Mariakani weigh bridge. The authority is also set to install similar gadgets at Mlolongo in Athi River, Gilgil and Webuye weigh bridges.
The new facility allows weighing when trucks are moving at a speed of 50Km per hour after the compliant that trucks move through the green channel without stopping.
The new weigh bridge technology is expected to speed up freight, save taxpayers millions of shillings in road repairs and maintenance and help seal loopholes for corruption.
The high hpeed, weighing-in, motion system technology measures axle weight as a vehicle travels along the road.
“The one in Mariakiani is ready and we are in the processing of commissioning it in a week or so,” said Meshack Kidenda, director general, KeNHA.
Bottlenecks at the Port of Mombasa and the persistent delays at the weigh bridges are some of the factors affecting the cost of doing business in Kenya.