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Senators query costs of mega road projects

NEWS
By Antony Gitonga | November 16th 2021
By Antony Gitonga | November 16th 2021
NEWS
Senator Moses Wetangula (R) and the chairman Diamond Trust Bank (DTB) Linus Gitahi during the Senate Speaker roundtable economic recovery meeting at Enashipai Resort in Naivasha. Senate has questioned the amount of funds used in of upcoming Rironi-Mau Summit expressway and Dongo-Kundu bypass in the Coast. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

The Senate has raised questions over the costs of the country’s ambitious capital projects, alleging some have been exaggerated.

The Senate Speaker roundtable meeting, which is being held in Naivasha to deliberate on the country’s economic recovery strategy, heard that the country was losing billions of shillings every year due to inflated projects. According to Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula, the Rironi-Mau Summit Expressway was initially set to be constructed at Sh23 billion during President Mwai Kibaki’s tenure.

“The World Bank even questioned the Sh23 billion, terming this as too high, but this was raised to Sh63 billion last year and the same road is now projected to cost Sh77 billion,” he said.

Work on the 175km road, which will be undertaken by the Rift Valley Highway Consortium, is set to begin by March next year. The project will expand the road into a four-lane dual carriageway, with provisions for a six-lane road should traffic increase. It will also improve the lower escarpment road and improve safety on sections that are dangerously narrow. The entire plan is projected to cost Sh160 billion.

Wetang’ula, who sits in the Senate Finance Committee, told the roundtable that the Dongo-Kundu Bypass in Mombasa was another questionable capital project in the country.

“The bypass, which is 17 kilometres long, used a whopping Sh17 billion for construction, meaning Sh1 billion for every kilometre,” he said.

Laikipia Senator John Kinyua also warned that double taxation by national and county governments could force some manufacturers to close shop, and admitted that the Senate had failed to debate the Bill addressing this, but the next House should address it.

On the costs of electricity, Linus Gitahi, the chairman of Diamond Trust Bank, said: “Let’s be realistic that independent power producers are behind the rising cost of electricity and we should do away with them so that manufacturers can be more productive.”

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