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Shoddy work on infrastructure exposes public to serious danger

By The Standard | Jun 29th 2017 | 2 min read

Though commendable, in the rush to finish the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) on time for the Madaraka Day celebrations, certain critical security considerations were ignored. Paramount on the Government’s list of things was to get the railway functional at the earliest opportunity. So far, ticketing on the SGR is very lax. A person just walks into the station and purchases a ticket. The tickets do not capture particulars of the passengers. In case of an unforeseen eventuality, it would be quite difficult ascertaining who, or the exact number of people on board the train. This lapse has given rise to a thriving blackmarket where the receipts are resold to desperate travellers at a markup.

Equally important, the rush to complete projects should not be at the cost of human life. Early this week, the Sigiri Bridge in Budalang’i constituency, Busia County, constructed at a whopping Sh1.2 billion, came apart before it could be used.

The collapse of the bridge came two weeks after President Uhuru Kenyatta commissioned it. God forbid; what if the bridge came down while the President was conducting the inspection? Or after it was opened for use. The collapse raises fundamental concerns, the least being whether stress tests were done on the bridge as is required by law. Even from the observation of the non-engineer, the point of collapse of the bridge needed a support column that was clearly not there.

What role did the National Construction Authority play in the construction of the Sigiri Bridge? One of its core objectives is to encourage the standardisation and improvement of construction techniques and materials. Did the Executive lean on the contractors to rush projects? What sanctions should be meted out to the culprits to serve as a deterrent?

COVEC, the Chinese company that is engaged in the construction of the bridge has admitted responsibility, but that is not enough. Every single cent allocated for that work should be accounted for. The people expect the best services in exchange for their hard-earned taxes.

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