Why private firms will now start managing key city roads
The Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura) has abandoned its periodic patching of roads in favour of complete re-carpeting in a strategy that also ropes in the private sector in management of key infrastructure projects.
The plan, which is already 15-kilometre underway in Nairobi’s Eastlands also involves handing over the roads to private firms for maintenance at an annual fee under the performance-based contracts.
President Uhuru Kenyatta in May directed the agency to partner with the County Government of Nairobi to improve deteriorating city roads under the Nairobi Roads Regeneration Programme that is set to last five years.
Kura communication officer John Cheboi said the plan, which target about 400Km of roads within the capital is cheaper compared to the traditional patching of potholes that has kept the maintenance budget strained over the years as more vehicles join the roads.
“By re-carpeting and improving the drainages, we will have saved the costs of constant maintenance and even get the opportunity to assign a company to maintain the road at a lower fee since it is already in good shape. This year we have Sh2.7 billion set aside for this exercise with both the county government and the national government set to chip in to boost these efforts,” said Mr Cheboi.
Maintenance contracts for two firms; Faidi Limited and Bashku General Supplies, which were in charge of the Western ring roads, the Northern and Eastern Bypasses respectively have since elapsed and KURA re-advertised for firms to keep the regenerated roads in good shape.
The firms were contracted at a total of Sh159 million for 18 months under the performance- based contracts that are assessed monthly.
Nairobi roads, most of which were constructed many decades ago when traffic pressure was much less compared to the current state have been a huge maintenance headache for KURA with construction firms raking in millions of shillings by patching the potholes which keep recurring during the rainy season.
A number of estate roads were put up by property developers keen to attract tenants hence done below standards. The road agency is planning to reconstruct such roads and put them under contractual maintenance as well.
Property developers who had encroached on road reserves with some completely blocking some are also targeted as Kura hopes to open up the missing links lsuch as it recently did with the one running through Kibera slums.
According to the agency, links like the Naivasha Road linking the expanding Ngong Road to the Nairobi-Nakuru highway will be made into a dual carriage as more funds are sought to expand Ngong Road beyond Karen.