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Does it worry you that Chinese firms have taken over the road construction industry?

While the government has made serious capital-intensive investments in form of roads, one of the disturbing realities is the incessant vandalism of the key infrastructure. What measures have you put in place to arrest the situation? Komen Moris, Eldoret

Vandalism is an enemy of development. The recent move by the government to regulate scrap metal trade could lead to reduction of the menace. As an authority, we, however, remain committed to enforcing strict measures to deter vandals. The authority has recently been successful in apprehending and charging vandals and some of them are serving jail terms.

Measures such as fresh licensing of scrap metal dealers have been considered by the government, taking cognizant of the fact that road furniture is made mainly from metal and, therefore, there is need for stringent regulation of the scrap metal. Kenyans should help us fight this menace by being custodians of the infrastructure that has been put in place at a high cost. Anyone who witnesses an act of vandalism should contact the police or call Kenha on 020-2989000.

I am disturbed by the dominance of Chinese companies in the road construction sector. Why is this the case and does Kenha consider the human rights records of Chinese firms when awarding them the multi-billion contracts? Onesmus Musau, Nairobi

Externally financed development projects come with many conditionalities, including a requirement for international competitive bidding. Therefore, it is foreseeable that contracts in this category will be won by foreign firms, particularly if local firms do not participate, or qualify at the procurement stage. In serving our mandate, as an authority we endeavour to ensure that the taxpayer gets value for money for every contract we award.

Therefore, award of contracts is done through an open, fair, transparent, and strict process of selection in full compliance with the procurement laws. All projects are also bound by contractual agreements that spell out obligations and standards of operation and conduct of contractors. We have also developed a corporate policy meant to limit employment of expatriate staff in our projects, particularly where locals have the requisite qualifications and experience.

Further, it is important to note that as an authority, we have put in place various measures to build the capacity of local contractors and promote their growth.

We encourage local contractors to form joint ventures among themselves and foreign contractors to create synergies for participation in bidding for large projects for training and technology transfer. Indeed, a number of projects have been awarded to joint ventures involving local contractors.

Why should a nicely constructed road lack signage? Jared Abiero, Awasi

Safety is a non-negotiable feature of a road. However, one of the major threats we face is vandalism of infrastructure, including road signs. Many road signs have been cut down by unscrupulous people and sold as scrap metal. 

We agree that one may find some roads without signs but this may be because of works still ongoing. We, therefore, advise motorists to observe temporary warning signs for guidance. You can write to any of our regional offices in case there is a specific road that is not marked for further action. 

There was supposed to be an interchange on the western bypass at Ndenderu junction, but a roundabout has been constructed instead. This is disastrous considering that the road from Karuri terminates at the roundabout and there is a hill on the other side. What became of the interchange? Naftali Waburi, Kikuyu, Kiambu

The bypass is already easing movement around the city and in the surrounding areas. The bypass is done under ‘Design and Build’ or “Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC)” type of contract, which has a fixed contract sum and strict completion timeline.

To avoid the lengthy processes and high cost of land acquisition in this peri-urban area, and to mitigate construction delays that could arise and lead to increase in contract cost, it was considered necessary to review the initial designs to accommodate construction works within available road reserve. The design reviews will still meet the key objective and requirement of the EPC contract, namely, to provide a continuous dual carriageway link. 

However, we are still pursuing the acquisition of land for Ndenderu and Ruaka interchanges, which will be implemented by the government in a phased manner, including the proposed capacity enhancements to Limuru Road and the Nairobi Northern bypass. 

When will the James Gichuru to Rironi highway be completed? The contractor has been on the site for ever. Naftali Waburi, Kikuyu, Kiambu

The James Gichuru–Rironi Project will be a major game-changer for urban and transit traffic in Nairobi and Kiambu counties after its projected completion in January 2023. The completion date was revised due to additional works, including construction of a full interchange at Gitaru, to aid seamless traffic flow between the highways. Construction of the project has also suffered delays due to land acquisition. However, the matter is now settled and plans are underway to ensure that all affected persons are effectively compensated. 

Why is the Kisumu-Busia road neglected. Years of piece-meal patching has created an uneven road surface while non-standardised bumps are all over. What is Kenha doing about this road? Owino Douglas, Maseno

The road is currently under a performance based maintenance contract (PBC) to ensure it is motorable. Perhaps, that is what you have observed being done on sections of the road. However, plans are underway to improve and widen it, and upgrade busy sections of the road to dual carriageway.

During the recent public consultation meetings for the Rironi-Mau Summit Road project in Nakuru, most participants demanded Kenha reviews the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study to encompass a geological study of rocks in the county due to many historical volcanic faultiness. Why is the company contracted for the work dilly-dallying on the matter? Dan Murugu, Nakuru City 

The expansion of the highway will be undertaken as a PPP project. The project company has already undertaken a preliminary design for the highway. Once the company secures financing from their lenders (targeted for June 2022), they will undertake further detailed investigations, including geological studies and designs to inform decisions on upgrading the highway.

Heavy commercial vehicles have been a menace to the durability of our expensive highways due to, among other things, overloading. What is the Kenha doing to solve this challenge? Dan Murugu, Nakuru

Huge destruction arises from overloading of trucks and heavy commercial vehicles. This has compelled the government to invest in durable and resilient road networks as well as bypasses. 

Various engineering and structural measures have been adopted, which entail paving of roads with durable materials and improved drainage systems. Notably, we have, since inception in 2009, constructed and rehabilitated approximately 3,850km of roads. 

What is holding the completion of the bypass being built in Eldoret? Komen Moris, Eldoret

Although we incurred some delays, mainly due to lengthy processes involving compensation for land acquired for the road, significant progress has been made. We are happy to report that the 32-kilometre road project is now nearing completion, with progress currently standing at 83 per cent.

The project will be completed before end of the year. We are also undertaking feasibility studies and detailed designs for the proposed Eldoret Eastern Bypass, which will start from the interchange of Eldoret western bypass near Ngeria (on Eldoret – Chepriret Road) and proceed to cross Eldoret-Iten Road near Marura, and back to Eldoret–Turbo Road (A8) near Maili Tisa where the western bypass also ends. 

Next week: Ms Betty Sungura-Nyabuto, CEO of National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC)       BY DAILY NATION    

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