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Fury at blundering roads chiefs

Nairobi residents took to the social media and radio to vent their fury on the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) after an operation to bring down a billboard on Waiyaki Way went awry blocking one of the city’s most important roads on Tuesday morning.

KeNHA workers had started dismantling the giant billboard at midnight but were unable to finish before the morning traffic rush with the structure lying across the dual carriageway.

Erected at night

Most workers who use the road arrived two or three hours late as vehicles to and from the city were diverted to other already congested roads like Argwings Kodhek and Riverside Drive.

Heavy trucks that could not be diverted waited impatiently for the structure to be dismantled before they could proceed upcountry or to Mombasa.

It took the efforts of firefighters to finally get traffic flowing again.

The billboard which is owned by Ikon Media Services is said to be the first of many that KeNHA intends to bring down because they have ‘not been approved’.

For many road users, however, the alleged illegality of the billboard was not important but the disruption caused and lost manhours was a serious cause for complain.

“They watched obliviously as the billboards were erected. Now, a key artery into Nairobi is clotted. Waste of time and money; defies logic,” tweeted Basett Buyukah.

Others pointed out that such activities should be carried out during the weekend or at night when there would be minimal disruption.

KeNHA issued an apology for the inconvenience saying that heavy metal gauge of the structure had caused the delay.

“KeNHA had envisaged that removal of the illegal structure would be completed before dawn and had alerted the traffic police to help control vehicles, but the operation stretched beyond the anticipated timeframe,” said Charles Njogu, the corporate affairs manager.

He added that they had not approved the structure, implying they could not guarantee public safety while it stood.

Mr Njogu accused the company of having erected the billboard at night and rushing to court to obtain an injunction when informed of the intention to bring it down.

“The court ruled that they liaise with KeNHA for the necessary approvals which they never did,” he added.

The road, classified as A1 falls under the agency’s mandate.