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Modern, climate-resilient roads are crucial for national growth

OPINION
By Silas Kinoti | November 30th 2021

Nairobi Expressway passing GPO and Nyayo House and joining the one along Mombasa Road from Haileselasie roundabout, Nairobi [David Gichuru, Standard]

Achieving sustainable development goal number 11 which calls on nations to invest in inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable urban roads infrastructure and settlements is at the heart of the government’s development plan under Vision 2030 and the Big Four agenda.

This explains why Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA), as key enabler and driver of Kenya’s growth and development agenda, is focusing on construction of an all-inclusive urban road infrastructure in our cities and urban centres.

This is with the understanding that a reliable and predictable urban road network is vital for a functional transport system which is central to meeting the socio-economic needs of urban communities and the nation as a whole.

Indeed, this is why infrastructure development in general and roads in particular form a key foundation of Vision 2030.

Of special attention, according to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a key requirement is to ensure that the road infrastructure is inclusive by meeting the needs of persons in vulnerable situations such as those living with disabilities, women, children and senior citizens.

Additionally, to mitigate against the impacts of climate change and in partnership with other government agencies and development partners, we are in the process of building a climate-resilient road network in line with the National Climate Plan to ensure minimal emissions by motorised transport and encourage more use of environmental-friendly transport such as bicycles.

The ongoing urban roads development and rehabilitation programme is quickly transforming lives and livelihoods in urban centres through provision of a seamless transport system. This has significantly improved the quality of mobility and connectedness. For instance, towns such as Lamu now have a well-developed road infrastructure.

Through KURA, Kenya has embarked on massive construction of an inclusive road infrastructure, including link roads to seamlessly connect various regions and communities. This has facilitated access to critical amenities within a very short time, hence saving on time and fuel costs. It has also led to decongestion of the traditional access roads within towns and those inter-connecting urban centres.  

Within a very short time, the country has managed to construct several bypasses, feeder roads and, more importantly, expand existing urban roads to cater for the needs of the growing population. The ongoing implementation of an intelligent transport system by KURA in Nairobi is expected to be a key mitigation measure against climate change as it will result in reduced traffic congestion, less vehicles on the roads and minimal carbon emissions.

The revamped infrastructure has also led to growth and development of roadside towns which wouldn’t have been possible in the absence of such roads.

Such development, therefore, has been key in ensuring the country fulfils various national and international obligations and commitments in line with Vision 2030, the Big Four Agenda and UN Sustainable Development Goals.

For Kenya to become a newly-industrialising, middle-income country, as envisaged through Vision 2030 and to transform into a globally competitive and prosperous nation with a high quality of life, a robust, reliable and high connectivity road infrastructure is a necessity.

That notwithstanding, the continued improvement of the roads infrastructure, although with some short-term challenges, is also wholesomely addressing objectives of the other three pillars contained in Vision 2030.

Indeed, a critical analysis of all the 17 SDGs, buttresses the fact that a good road network is key driver to their realisation. After all is said and done, we would be totally right to argue that for Kenya to expand her economic scope and achieve her full potential, there is urgent need to continue investing in a modern and climate resilient road infrastructure.

Our pledge is that soon Kenyans will have a new experience once KURA successfully implements the Bus Rapid Transit system on identified corridors within Nairobi to improve public transport and therefore ease traffic congestion.

Mr Kinoti is the Director-General, Kenya Urban Roads Authority

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