Senators put agencies on the spot over bad roads

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020 00:00 |
The Dongo Kundu bypass is a project aimed at easing congestion within the island city of Mombasa by connecting South Coast to North Coast without having to pass through the island Photo/PD/FILE

Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka.

Senators have put road agencies on the spot for allegedly overseeing the construction of substandard, stalled and incomplete projects.

The lawmakers claim that despite billions of shillings spent on mega infrastructure projects, some of them have developed cracks and while others are in sorry states, barely two years after their completion.

These were disclosures laid bare in the Senate after reports that the Sh28 billion Dongo Kundu bypass has started  experiencing  cracks forcing the closure of some sections of the road.

The legislators are now pointing an accusing finger at the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA), the Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA)  and the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure for doing little to  ensure that they oversight the contractors.

Cowboy contractors

They are calling for audit of all the infrastructure projects undertaken by the Jubilee administration since the 2014/ 2015 financial year to date.

“When you look at the issue of most of the projects that have been undertaken in the country, there has been inadequate oversight by the relevant agencies,” Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei claimed.

“It is sad that the cowboy contractors that were famous in the yesteryears are now on the loose,” he added.

According to Cherargei, KeNHA, which is responsible for the development, rehabilitation, management and maintenance of all national trunk roads have not been maintaining their roads.

In Nandi County, for example, the senator cited the road between Mberere/Kopele in Kisumu County and Timboroa which he claimed is substandard, yet we have KeRRA as a supervising authority.

“The road from Rivatex to Kapkatembu has been done in a substandard manner.

The road from Chepterit to Moi University is being washed away by floods because of the substandard work,” he alleged.

“There is danger in Chemuswa. All the roads have been done poorly, yet we have KeRRA which is supposed to be an oversight authority,” Cherargei lamented saying the contractor has been chronically doing substandard work for many years, yet KeNHA has been sleeping on the job.

He asked the Senate Roads and Transport Committee to order for an audit and put KeNHA and KeRRA to task for the lack of supervision and oversight of the roads being constructed in the country.

Kitui Senator Enock Wambua said that some projects had either stalled or incomplete because proper feasibility study was not carried out before the construction commenced.

According to him, it would serve the country better if proper feasibility studies are carried out before construction commences so that Kenyans get value for their money.  

“It is appalling to hear that less than two years after billions of shillings were sunk into it, it has cracks and landslides are blocking some sections of it,” he said of the Dongo Kundu bypass.

On his part, Machakos Senator Boniface Kabaka apportioned  the big blame on the Kenyan engineers, especially civil, structural and mechanical engineers, whom he claimed issue certification for completion of these roads.

Kabaka has also proposed that the Penal Code be amended, so that criminal liability be preferred against the errant professional engineers and associate professionals.

“They will not only be surcharged, but also face a stiff penalty of even 50 years and above.

This is very serious as billions of Kenyan taxpayers’ money has been spent to put up the said roads,” he said.

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