State sets new timelines for key road projects

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia greets contractors while touring the expansion of the Eastern bypass at Utawala. [Wilberforce Okwiri,Standard]

Contractors tasked with delivering key State road projects across the country will have to burn the midnight oil after the State revised their completion dates.

The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure wants contractors to complete the projects early, a move that serves as a warning shot to other government agencies with pending projects in an electioneering year.

A spot check by The Saturday Standard shows that the most pressed for time are those contractors working on the Nairobi Expressway, Eastern By-pass, roads in Mombasa city and other mega projects in the Mt Kenya region.

Transport and infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia who was conducting an inspection tour of the 27-kilometre (km) Eastern Bypass over the weekend told contractors the speed up the projects.

The media was able to establish that the dualling works of the road connecting Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to Ruiru, which will cost Sh12.5 billion has the shortest revised timeline.

“We are very happy with the progress so far. We want to make sure that all these projects are completed as quickly as possible. That is why this project will be done in record time. It will be completed before the end of June,” Macharia said.

Touching on the Expressway, which is 95 per cent complete, the CS said it was initially scheduled for commissioning in June this year but has been completed earlier.

“We are opening it in April, because people need these pieces of infrastructure and also to minimise on inconvenience. Because when the road is under construction, there will be an inconvenience to mwananchi, so we want to minimise that as much as possible.”

The CS said both the expressway and the bypass have created various jobs and other opportunities for the locals - at a time when jobs are scarce.

“In our country, we are faced with a big challenge of unemployment. And even as we are doing these big projects, one of the biggest high impact advantages we have and benefits is the creation of jobs for our young people,” he said.

“For this project alone, we have employed 660 young men and women. For the Expressway which we are about to complete, we have employed 6,000 Kenyans,” the CS added.

 Macharia noted that the two projects were being undertaken with the local content policy in mind. “In the Expressway, we have about Sh24 billion worth of local content out of the Sh70 billion. People are supplying all kinds of materials. This one alone out of the Sh12.5 billion, Sh5 billion is what we have as local content.”

The media was also updated on the speed with the status of other ongoing big-ticket and high impact projects.

 Macharia explained the projects are spread across the country. “Our development of infrastructure is decentralised. We don’t want to look at the city of Nairobi only. If you go to Mombasa for example, you have seen for yourself the Dongo Kundu By-pass, you have seen the development we are doing in Changamwe,” Macharia noted.

He stated that the State is just about to start a major highway from Nyali to Mtwapa and from Mtwapa to Kilifi.

“This will enhance connectivity and make Mombasa a major tourist hub. We are also doing a lot of work in the Rift Valley and to the border with Southern Sudan,” he added.

The projects the State criticised for their snail pace progress however include the rehabilitation works of the 67km Thika-Magumu Road contracted to China Engineering Corporation.

It is billed at Sh2.06 billion. The project was initially proposed to be done by October this year but this was amended to August this year with the foreseen benefits being improved connectivity and increased economic activities

“People here have suffered a lot in terms of potholes, the road has been narrow, and the rampant insecurity. By about last month, the works were 20 per cent done but now at 28 per cent. The road has a lot more value in terms of business,” added Macharia.

The nature of ongoing works are essentially earthworks involving site clearance and filling.

The attention of the government was also brought to the 32km Naivasha-Njabini road which was supposed to have been done in 30 months - having commenced in March last year.

The project, fully funded by the government, was contracted to Victoria Engineering with the nature of the works involving the reconstruction of section A which is at Naivasha town and rehabilitation of section B - at the junction of Kinamba.

Section C of Kinamba-Githioro also underwent a total makeover.

Other than opening up the area, the project billed at Sh1.8 billion, is 94 per cent complete. It is expected to provide better access to markets for agricultural produce.

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