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Give us our potholes back, say Upperhil residents

Property owners in the fast growing Upper Hill area risk losing millions of shillings as tenants move out due to the poor road network, real estate agents have warned.

Residents interviewed also expressed frustration saying they preferred the potholes that dotted the area before the unending road works started.

Mentor Management, real estate agents CEO James Hoddell said: “We are seeing this area losing office space business due to the poor road network around them. These are potentially prime office areas, but the  occupiers are being put off by traffic congestion.”

The heavy traffic in the area, which has the highest concentration of new buildings will discourage potential tenants and push old ones out with devastating results for developers.

Office space

A recent survey by the real estate agents showed that Upper Hill was heavily affected by the poor state of roads and was no longer in high demand for office space.

“The ease of access is the main reason companies are moving out of areas such as Upper Hill to less congested locations such as Westlands and Gigiri,” Mr Hoddell said.

Bus driver Richard Njoroge blamed the contractor, saying the firm should be blacklisted and the work given to another.

“He has shown that he is incapable of completing a five-kilometre stretch within the agreed time line. The Government should step in and give him a tight deadline, failure to which the work should be taken away,” said Mr Njoroge.

Boda boda rider David Mwangi, who operates from the Teachers Service Commission building also said he preferred the potholes that used to be on the roads than the impassable chaos that was currently costing him heavily.

“I use this road quite often and I  am having to replace many parts in my motorbike. If the Government could push the contractor to finish the work now, that will be great,” said Mr Mwangi.

The Upper Hill roads contract was awarded to Mattan Contractors  in May, 2012, but it stalled due to lack of money,  after which the Government revived it.

The project completion that was due in May, is once again lagging behind schedule and may not meet the deadline that the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura) had promised.

Infrastructure Principal Secretary  John Mosonik said the contractor was back on site and had enough funds to complete the first phase in August.

“We experienced a slight delay in the budgetary allocations to Kura because of the transition to devolved government, so during that period we didn’t pay the contractor hence the wasted time. We have, however, sorted this out and expect the road to be complete by August,” said Eng Mosonik.

The Government had initially paid Sh431 million to the contractor out of the total Sh2 billion expected cost of the project.

In its current state, the roads are either too narrow or in a poor state and the increasing traffic has made it worse. They are dusty, several excavations are not covered and when it rains, it gets worse.

Sadly, pedestrians have to pay the price as they have to share the small sections of the roads with vehicles, risking life and limb.

Growing traffic

Mr Charles Mwangi, a valuer with Rubyland said: “We have seen the transformation of this area from a residential to a mixed-use area. It was wise for the Government to redo the roads.

Without expansion, the roads may not cope with the growing traffic and with the expected construction of more buildings, things would get worse.”

The roads measuring 5.4 kilometres include Hospital, Elgon, Kilimanjaro, Bunyala, Mara and Upper Hill roads. A section of Ole Sangale Road is also included in the project.

Kura said that the Contractor has excavated top soils, filled several layers of the base and had started preparing for tarmacking in some sections such as Elgon Road.

“With the initial preparation of the base, we expect the remaining works to be hastened. The scope of the works include the construction of two-way two-lane road with a median separator, cycle tracks, footpaths drainage structures and street lighting. This will be the Phase one of the expected overhaul of roads infrastructure in the Upper Hill area,” Kura said.

Currently the area is dotted with high rise commercial building that houses banks, hotels, government agencies, embassies and multi-national headquarters.

The area houses the headquarters of financial institutions such as Equity, CBA, CIC insurance, Britam, NIC bank, World Bank, Fusion Group and several insurance firms.

The rehabilitation of these roads has been divided into two phases, with the second phase set to include the re-construction and upgrading of Chyulu, Menengai, Mawenzi, Masaba, Kiambere, a section of Chyulu, Menengai, Mawenzi, Masaba, Kiambere,, and parts of Hospital, Mara, Upper Hill and Lower Hill Roads measuring approximately 13 kilometres.