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MPs: Sh80b was spent on non-existent road projects

By Roselyne Obala | Apr 10th 2019 | 3 min read
By Roselyne Obala | April 10th 2019

Questions have been raised whether 2,000km of new tarmac roads exist in rural areas where the Government says it has spent Sh80 billion.

In 2016, President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the construction of 10,000km low-volume road project intended to upgrade rural roads to tarmac.

Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRa) acting Director General Luka Kimeli, says 2,000km have already been done at Sh40 million per kilometre but some MPs claim the roads do not exist.

Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni ), MPs Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja), Richard Onyonka (Kitutu Chache South) and Peter Kaluma (Homa Bay Town), called for a thorough audit of the entire project, saying the amount paid per kilometre was exorbitant.

“This is a hoax. It is just another multi-billion shilling Galana Kulalu. The whole exercise was meant to act as a road construction charade to siphon funds from these '10,000km' of roads,” said Mr Onyonka.

Kilonzo Jnr said Makueni has two projects but "they have not seen a kilometre of continuous tarmac."

Kimilili MP Didmus Baraza said he had seen some construction within his constituency, but claimed it was not more than two kilometres.

A contractor, Harrison Omari, also raised doubts over KeRRa's report that 2,000km had been constructed, arguing such scale of work would be visible on the ground.

Cash cow

“It is not possible. It is a creature of imagination because (the length) is equivalent to the distance from Mombasa to Kisumu, and back. That is a long stretch. The focus should be more on whether these roads really exist,” said Omari.

Onyonka added: “Why are we spending Sh40 million? These roads were just a cash cow. Sadly, this project was cleverly couched to reward those of us who supported Jubilee.”   

Kilonzo Jnr also argued the cost is too high and appears to factor in corruption and tenderprenuers.

“There is no logic except unnecessary tunnels and raising of roads unnecessarily. It is these design of roads that has led to multiple accidents. Most of the projects started in 2017 and stalled,” he said.

Kilonzo Jnr added: “We need to interrogate this issue as a country because it is the sole cause of increase of cost of doing business and a haven for cowboy contractors."

But Omari defended the cost, saying it would range from Sh30 million to Sh50 million because of different needs. 

“The top layer, the tarmac thickness should be of 30mm to 50mm. The traffic in most of these roads is very minimum. This is why they are called low-volume, not like a super-highway based on the number of vehicles using the road daily,” he explained.

Kimeli said 2,000km have been completed at a cost of Sh80 billion and another 4,300km were under construction.

A balance of 3,700km have not been awarded in compliance with the President’s directive last year that froze all new projects.

“The low-volume road is not costly. It’s Sh40m per kilometre of road. In total, we have paid for 2,000km black tarmac,” he said.

But Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia criticised the MPs for questioning the amount paid for the roads.

“Did they indicate that roads used to cost Sh100 million per kilometre? Regarding these projects, can they be specific on which ones? Under the low-volume seal roads, we have more than 400 new roads under construction,” said the CS.

Baffle anybody

But Onyonka insisted the Kenya Institute of Highways and Building Technologies (Kibit), which is a Government agency, had proven that it can build local concrete roads at Sh10 million per kilometre.

“These huge volumes of roads would baffle anybody. They were designed to steal money for election. We pleaded in the last Parliament for 10 kilometres per constituency but nobody in Government wanted to listen to us,” said Onyonka said.

The MPs warned that more than 20 projects costing over Sh3 billion could be affected.

The roads are located in Kiambu, Uasin Gishu, Turkana, Meru, West Pokot, Makueni, Kisii, Turkana and Mombasa among others.

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