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Impasse between Nyeri county government and Kura stalls road works

By Francis Ngige | August 17th 2014

NYERI COUNTY: Residents of Nyeri and Karatina towns continue to endure poor roads despite the government releasing money for routine maintenance.

Reason? An impasse between Nyeri County Government and Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura) has delayed the works for three months, making a bad situation worse.

The Sh50 million project has been delayed since May by what Kura says is interference by the county government. Although the repair jobs were tendered and contracts awarded to successful bidders, no work has commenced.

The works for routine maintenance of Nyeri and Karatina CBD and estate roads have been awarded to seven contractors at Sh49.5 million and involve 24.8 kilometres of roads.

Nyeri has projects worth Sh27,709,860 while in Karatina, the roads are to be repaired at a cost of Sh22,811,124.

And now, local MPs have joined the fray accusing the county government of frustrating development projects by erecting hurdles and frustrating National Government agencies responsible for maintenance of roads.

But Nyeri Governor Nderitu Gachagua has rubbished claims that his government is a stumbling block in road repairs. “I have not stopped any work, what I’m questioning is how the money is being spent. We want accountability and I have said so long as I am the Governor, we must know how money is spent within the county. Some projects are being exaggerated,” said Gachagua.

He said he had raised the matter with Roads and Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau who promised to look into the issue.

Work plan

“As a county government, we have a development programme and since we are the people on the ground, our priority should be considered. We don’t want a situation where officers sitting in Nairobi decide which roads are important for us,” a fuming Gachagua said.

“The fact the money is coming from Kura is not enough reason why we should not question how it is being used. The roads are in Nyeri and we should have a say on which one should be constructed.”

According to Kura officials, the county government is opposing the projects saying it was not involved in its planning and would have preferred to prioritise other roads.

Correspondences between Kura and the county government indicate the tussle started late last year as the agency planned for the contracts for the 2013/14 financial year.

Letters exchanged between the two parties show trouble started in September last year when Gachagua sought to change the work plan submitted by Kura to Kenya Roads Board (KRB) to conform with his priorities in terms of roads maintenance and construction.

One of his suggestions was to build footpaths along Nyeri town streets and maintenance of Hospital Road in Karatina town, but Kura had presented a different list of roads that needed urgent rehabilitation.

After receiving his proposal, Kura wrote to the governor saying it was impossible to change the work plan already approved by KRB “but your proposals will be considered in future.”

“We have noted your proposal but the work plan for the upcoming projects have already been approved. Further delay in the implementation of the project would continue to worsen the deplorable state of the roads,” read Kura letter to Gachagua.

Last week, Kura Central Regional Manager Jacinta Wairimu said after contracts were awarded, Gachagua wrote a letter to Kura saying he would not allow the works to go on since his proposals had been ignored.

“We thought we had sorted the matter when we told the Governor it was too late to change the work plan only for him to turn around and insist that works will not go on,” said Wairimu.

She said of the seven contracts, four were awarded to special groups that include women, youth and persons with disability.

Documents in our possession showed the repair works in Nyeri CBD was awarded to Falcon Road Contractors Limited at a cost of Sh10,106,795 and was set to be completed by October.

In another contract, Mestus Agencies Limited was tasked with repairing Kiawara and Majengo drains in the populous slums within Nyeri Town at a cost of Sh1,793,915.

Routine maintenance was to be carried out in Ring Road estate roads with Pacific Sterling Limited expected to gravel them together with Mt Kenya School Roads and Ngangarithi Roads for Sh3,307,774.

Other roads earmarked for the exercise include Kamakwa-Gitathini, Kamuyu Access, Nyeri Medical Campus-Outspan Road and Gitathini-Giatiti Road which were to be graveled by Kings Construction Limited at a cost of Sh4,036,349. With most of the roads in King’ong’o, Ruring’u and Skuta estates in deplorable condition, the maintenance would have given the locals a reason to smile, but as the standoff persists, they remain in the same state.

Direct Auto Parts and Services Limited was awarded Sh7,464,924 to carry out maintenance of King’ong’o estate roads, PGH-Sewerage treatment road, Ruring’u Township, Farmlands Pembe Tatu and Skuta roads.

In the nearby Karatina town, Kura has awarded contracts to Aleca Agencies Limited to rehabilitate the dilapidated CBD roads for Sh4,421,876 while periodic maintenance of Kibaki, Flamingo Bar and Church road is to be carried out by Marworks Investment Limited at a cost of Sh18,389,248.

Up in arms

Residents are now up in arms over the delay in rehabilitating the roads. “Since the onset of long rains, the road to Skuta has been impassable and we we are surprised that even though it was one of the roads earmarked for repair by Kura, it is yet to be repaired due to the stalemate,” said Henry Ng’ang’a, a resident.

Counties Efficiency in Development (Cedev) Chairman James Maina Mugo said he does not understand why the county government is interfering with Kura whose mandate is clearly stipulated in law.

“Why should Nyeri people suffer and yet the Government has released funds to repair roads. We are likely to witness more destruction of roads with the ongoing rains so the sooner the matter is resolved the better,” said Mugo.

Nyeri Town MP Esther Murugi accused the county government of delaying the works through political interference. She said the project is under a national government agency and should proceed without undue interference by the county government.

“There are valid contracts signed between Kura and the contractors and it is being supervised by professional and unbiased civil servants. Our people should not suffer due to unnecessary wrangles,” said Ms Murugi.

Mathira MP Peter Weru also accused the county government of unnecessarily delaying the road works and subjecting local people to poor roads.

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