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Counting losses over delayed road repair

By Athman Amram | August 20th 2012

By Athman Amran

Thousands of residents of Second Avenue in Nairobi’s Eastleigh have been living in agony over a road whose construction work they say is moving at snail speed.

The work, which began in October last year at an estimated cost of Sh173 million, is expected to be complete in less than two months.

But when The Standard visited the site two days ago, there was nothing to show that construction of the road that stretches from Juja Rd to Eastleigh Section Three was going on.

Pedestrians hop, step and jump to cross the road while cars wade through muddy water.

A number of businesses along the 3km section have been counting losses as the road has remained like a trench that holds stagnant water for months after.

Wet earth and stones have been heaped on the side of the road literally blocking shops and other businesses.

Residents and business people interviewed said they had lodged a complaint with the area MP Yusuf Hassan about the slow work.

Mr Hassan told The Standard that residents had complained to him about the alleged poor material being used, the delay in finishing the work and obstruction of business activities.

“The quality of material being used is a technical argument.  What I know is that the contract was given in October last year by the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura) and the work is expected to be complete in October this year,” the MP said.

He also raised concern as to whether the road could be complete by October, which is less than two months away.

Don’t want failure

“But I am not aware if the amount (Sh173 million) has been increased or if the October deadline has been extended.  Our concern is the delay and the quality. This is one of the first projects in my constituency awarded after I became MP and I would not want to see it fail,” he said.

Hassan said he had talked with the contractor who had told him that he had found black soil, which had to be removed.

But the contractor, a Mr Burhan, said he was just following a plan and design given to him by the Public Works ministry.

“Anyway it is not a new road  being constructed. It is rehabilitation work,” Burhan told The Standard.

He said there was nothing wrong with the way the construction work was going on.

And on the messy situation the road is, Burhan said that it was inevitable as construction work was in progress. He said a heap of construction material has to be left on the sides as work continues.

“Work is going on. There has to be stones and sand left on the sides of the road,” Burhan said.

He insisted that there was nothing odd about what was happening along the road.

“I have to follow instructions. But if I am doing anything wrong, there are always laws that can be resorted to,” the contractor said.

Kura chief corporate communications officer, John Cheboi, said the delay in the construction was due to the rainy season that just ended recently.

Residents are also to blame for the road problems, says Cheboi. They have blocked the drainage by dumping garbage.

“Blocking the road during construction is normal. People have to sacrifice,” he said.

But residents and business people in the area say the contractor has not constructed a new drainage system.

“He continues with construction using the old sewerage system, which is blocked,” Eastleigh resident Adan Mohamed said.

Mohamed also complained that the road had been rehabilitated just about seven years ago and it became dilapidated with no sight of tarmac.

“They always do shoddy road construction work in Eastleigh,” Mohamed lamented.

Another resident, Mathar Mohamed, accused local engineers for substandard work.

“If foreigners can make good roads why not locals? Are they not patriotic enough? Don’t they pity other Kenyans who are suffering because of their work?” Mathar posed.

Ali Adan, a resident, complained that while about 45 per cent of revenue for the Nairobi City Council comes from Eastleigh, the area is neglected as far as roads and sewerage system are concerned.

“All we get from our revenue is shoddy work and no service,” Adan said.

Ibrahim Mohamed, a taxi driver on 12th Street says: “I can’t do business as the road is blocked for construction. There is no water, no road and no business.”

He alleged that the road contractor had cut water pipes.

 “For the past one year the road has remained the same. They dig, leave dirt behind and cut water supply,” another taxi driver, Mohammed Hassan, says.

He said from Section One there is no tarmac but just concrete blocks, which deteriorate and leave the road muddy and impassable after a short while.

The contractor says he is not  using inferior material.

“Taxi drivers and residents do not know exactly what is happening. They have no idea of what goes on in constructing a road,” Burhan said.

Cabro is being used to construct the road. Cheboi says this is the best material for the area due to common water and oil spillage, which easily damage tarmac.


On rough highway to Vision 2030

A casual look at the state of Kenya’s roads is depressing. Many of them are in a deplorable state.

In fact, in some areas especially in the rural areas, passengers prefer to walk to taking a vehicle because where roads used to be can now pass for abandoned quarries.

 For example, one can not drive smoothly from capital Nairobi to neighbouring Uganda, Ethiopia or Sudan. The road from Kapenguria to Lodwar (to Sudan) is a road from hell, according to residents.

When The Standard sought answers from the authorities concerned with improving the country’s  roads in line with Vision 2030, we were presented with a rosy picture of how Kenya is about to have good roads everywhere.

The Kenya National Highways Authority has begun major projects, including the Mombasa Port Area Road Development Project.

This involves construction of a 20km bypass from the main Nairobi-Mombasa highway to the south coast and a 5.7km link to the proposed Kipevu container terminal.

A contract has also been awarded for the rehabilitation of the 58km Webuye-Kitale road at a cost of Sh3.3 billion.The list of roads either under construction or about to be built is long —  a confirmation that Kenya is indeed set for Vision 2030.

But Kenyans’ hope is that the roads are made quickly to ease their travelling trauma.



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