Mt Kenya leaders lobby for share of Sh33b road project

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru (second left) Mutahi Kahiga (second right) and Maragwa MP Mary Wamaua (right) with  Kenya National Highways Authority Director General Peter Mundinia in Nairobi. [David Njaaga,Standard]
Mt Kenya leaders have pushed for a 40 per cent share of the construction of the Sh33 billion Kenol-Sagana-Marua dual carriageway set to start in October.

Governors, MPs and senators from areas where the 84km road will pass, yesterday met with the Kenya National Highways Authority (KenHA) officials to iron out concerns and seek assurances on benefits for locals.

Key concerns include having 40 per cent of the workforce coming from the area inserted in contract documents before work begins, land compensation, waiver of cess, access roads, sewerage and drainage and the construction of pedestrian footbridges and livestock crossings.

KenHA said the tender for the project would be floated in July and the construction expected to be completed in three years.

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More than 868 households will be disrupted by the road project, with Nyeri having the highest number at 423, Kirinyaga (415), Murang'a (17) and Embu (13).

Fifty-four public utilities such as health centres, education, religious, security and water institutions will also be partly affected.

At the meeting, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru lobbied that the 40 per cent be first included in the design contract and that work done in the counties the road would pass through be reserved for local contractors only.

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Ms Waiguru also pressed for compensation as her county was the second-most affected by the project.

Addressing the media, Waiguru said KenHA had assured the leaders that their demands, including affirmative action, would be considered.

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“We wanted an assurance that 40 per cent of the workforce will be locally sourced, especially the contractors and sub-contracting. This road will gobble up about Sh22 billion, we’ve been assured that this (40 per cent local content) will happen,” said Waiguru.

“Further to that, we’ve also been assured that there will be affirmative action for other supporting roles such as road maintenance, with youth getting 15 per cent, women 10 per cent and People Living with Disabilities (PWDs) 5 per cent. This will be the people who come from where that road is passing,” added the governor.

The cost for the construction of the Africa Development Bank-funded road is Sh22 billion, while the total cost, including supervision and land compensation, is Sh33 billion.

KenHA Chairman Erastus Mwongera said 40 per cent local content policy was already in place, but added that it would be important to reflect locals' involvement even at the top positions of the firms doing the work and also on the supply of materials.

He, however, lamented that some local contractors were a let-down and disappeared after only completing half the work.

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"If local contractors can be mobilised into a consortium, they can really do it," said Mr Mwongera.

Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga said most concerns had been addressed, adding that he was glad that the initial design bypassing Karatina had been rejected.

“Karatina is the hub of Nyeri’s economy and we would have really been worried,” said Kahiga.

He further said they would deal directly with KenHA in order to know whether they would give cess waiver, which was a top revenue earner for counties.

The project

Kahiga added that the project was an indication that President Uhuru Kenyatta had not "forgotten” Central Kenya.

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Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua asked that the project be fast-tracked and said compensation must be done before any work kicks off.

“The compensation should and must be done before the actual work begins,” he said.

Gachagua termed the project a serious injection of capital for Mt Kenya region, adding that it would boost the economy of the area.

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Mt KenyaKenya National Highways AuthorityKenHAKirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru