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What Infrastructure PS is doing about rogue contractors

In this interactive series, we invite our readers to send in questions to select public figures. Answers will be published in the next print and online editions.

This week, Infrastructure Principal Secretary John Mosonik responds to your questions.

The Jubilee administration has anchored its re-election campaign strategy on road construction projects. Is that a burden to you in terms of service delivery? While the launch of road construction is often colourful in many cases, the “contractors” who are paraded during the launch immediately leave with their equipment as soon as the President’s entourage leaves. Are the launches or commissioning just for public relations and to gain political mileage? 

Patrick Wahito, Banana, Kiambu

Successful implementation of road infrastructure requires heavy investment both in capital and human resources. We, therefore, have to be innovative in trying to bring down the cost of construction. We are on the right track to deliver our mandate to the people of this country.

Regarding the question of contractors removing equipment from site after launching of the projects, it is important to inform the public that before the actual construction works fully commence, the contractor is required to confirm the designs and set out the road and establish camps.

I want to assure Kenyans that all the roads that have been launched are progressing well.

Mr Mosonik, you appear to be the only senior government official other than Cabinet Secretary for Education Fred Matiang’i who takes his job seriously. Does performance count in future job advancement? 

Faith Mumbe, Nairobi

Thank you for the compliment. I recognise that I have been entrusted to serve in this important capacity by the leadership of the country. Indeed this is a privilege and I take it very seriously. Whereas it is true that performance counts for future advancement, my immediate focus is to do my best in my current assignment.

Sir, why is the Ministry of Roads and Infrastructure through Kenya National Highways Authority not repairing the huge crack near Nyabiuto area along the Kisii -Kilgoris highway? 
Andrew Maranga Ratemo, Kisii

My department wishes to report that the cracks on the road section on the area near Nyabiuto have been repaired. We have procured a contractor to facilitate continuous maintenance of this road.

The Mamboleo-Miwani-Chemelil roundabout-Muhoroni Road is a very old road in the sugar belt. At one point it was tarmacked but at the moment, it is in a sorry state. When will it be redone? I believe repairing it would ease pressure on the Kisumu-Kericho highway and to western Kenya. 

David Okello, Kisumu

I acknowledge that this road has deteriorated and it requires full reconstruction. The road has been earmarked for reconstruction and we are currently sourcing for funds.

Sir, dealing with well-entrenched road contractors and influential politicians with vested interests in the road construction sector is itself very difficult. How have you managed to wade through?

Gichohi, Murang’a

Mine is simple: Do the best you can and let others be the judge. I suffer no illusions as to the delicate and intricate nature of my job.  I am guided and persuaded by honesty, hard work and results-oriented outcomes.  Meanwhile, all contracts in my department are awarded in accordance with the Public Procurement and Disposal Act. 

Often, the government talks of thousands of kilometres of roads constructed. However, as a resident of Siaya County, I wonder where these many kilometres are. What happened to the upgrading and/or construction of Sega-Kanyumba Market-Got Nanga Road?

Lawrence Owino, Ugenya

My department is currently constructing several roads in Siaya County. Some of these include the Ugunja-Sigomere-Bungasi, Sindindi -Mudhiero, Ndere-Boro, Luanda -Akala, Muhanda-Nyangweso roads. The ministry has also recently awarded the construction of Ugunja-Ukwala-Ruambwa Road.

Have you forgotten tarmacking of Kakamega-Murhanda-Shinyalu-Chepsonoi Road? 
Maurice Mudeheri, Kakamega

We have not forgotten this road. It is important to note that the government has embarked on an ambitious plan to upgrade 10,000 kilometres every term. The road will be upgraded in the next phase of Roads 2000 programme.

Mr PS, you take your job seriously — if the many tours to various road projects in the country is anything to go by. Shouldn’t you seek elective office to prove your mettle, sir? 

Alfred Langat, Eldoret

As an engineer, I believe I have something to offer the country in the public sector. I draw a lot of satisfaction in serving my country in the current position.

How much is the average cost of constructing a kilometre of road in Kenya? Lusaka Road looks like a two kilometre stretch yet it has taken more than a year with no sign of being completed. When will it be completed? Why is it that most roads in the country like Jogoo Road are not fully/usually marked? President Uhuru Kenyatta on the State of the Nation address said 1,950 kilometres were done, but analyst David Ndii says from government records, only 950 kilometres have been constructed. Who is telling the truth ? 

Kimutai Moses, Nairobi

The cost of road per kilometre varies and is dependent on the function of the road, the traffic, scope of the works and the location of the project. For example, construction of a two lane high traffic highway will cost about Sh95 million per kilometre, whereas a low volume seal road with low traffic would cost about Sh40 million per kilometre.

The Lusaka Road has experienced delays due to limited right of way and relocation of sewer and other utility services. This has since been resolved and the whole section is now paved. There has been laxity in marking our roads in the past. However, I have directed the road implementing agencies to embark on marking and installation of proper road signs on all new paved roads across the country.

The number of kilometres that have been implemented by the Jubilee administration now stands at more than 2,000 kilometres. The President gave the correct figure.

Muthatari-Kivue Road was classified as a national government road since it was proposed as the Embu town bypass. For the last four years, the road has been shunned leaving it impassable. What plans does the government have for this road? 

Nixon Mugendi, Embu

The matter will be referred to the Constituency Roads Committee for prioritisation and immediate maintenance.

Bwana PS, I believe that the B9 road; Isiolo-Mandera highway, which is the shortest route to Nairobi from Mandera, is the only class B unpaved road in Kenya. When is this road likely to be paved to ease movement?  What about its critical feeder roads like D486 and E815 which we depend on for food supplies from eastern region? 

Mwenda Limungi

We have received a commitment from the World Bank to tarmac this important road. Currently we are in the process of procuring consultants to review the available designs to enable us to tender for the works. The stage improvement of El–Wak–Wargadud–Rhamu which is part of this road is currently ongoing. We are considering the two feeder roads which link road B9 to Meru County in subsequent phases of Roads 2000 programme.   

Sir, driving between Maji ya Jumvi and Bachuma Gate, along the Mombasa-Nairobi highway, has been a nightmare. The resident contractor awarded the contract has taken too long. What measures does your office have to supervise such contractors to work on the timelines given? 

Martin Muia, Mombasa

There were initial delays at the start of this road, which were not anticipated. These challenges have been resolved. The contractor has achieved about 70 per cent of progress. As a department, we engage qualified and experienced consultants to supervise contractors. We also carry out frequent audits to monitor the projects.

I have seen Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki launch the tarmacking of Chuka-Kaareni, Chiakariga-Uragate, Giaki-Miomponi and Kiriani-Kianjagi-Chogoria roads in the absence of any government technocrats from your ministry. Is it procedural for politicians to launch such projects? 

Ichenga Mugao, Tharaka Nithi

I am not aware of the launch of these roads. However, the Senator is free to inspect any road within his jurisdiction and consult with my department at any time on matters relating to roads.

How comes there are no service lanes at Witeithie along Thika super highway? 

Stephen Kimani, Ngong

The congestion at Witeithie is caused by the speed bumps that were erected to improve pedestrian safety. We are planning to construct a footbridge at this location and to remove the speed bumps.

Bwana PS, what is the state of the construction of Oinobmoi-Barwesa Road in Baringo County? 

Komen Moris, Eldoret

The contract for tarmacking this road has been awarded and the works will commence soon.

Some months ago there were sections along Mombasa-Nairobi route where materials underlying the rail were swept away. What have you done about it? Edwin Kipkoech, Kipkelion East

The washouts that were experienced on the railway were attributed to flash floods. At the moment, there is no threat to the road. My department will continue to monitor and take appropriate action when necessary.

Sir, what could be stopping the Kenya Rural Roads Authority from tarmacking D538 and D535 roads in Taita Taveta County? 

John Mwakoma, Taita Taveta
The Government is investing huge resources in construction of roads in Taita Taveta County. The construction of Mwatate-Taveta road is nearing completion. Other roads such as the access to the Taita Taveta University have been upgraded.

You are always in the media inspecting road projects. What have your visits yielded in terms of new roads?
Winnie Adhiambo, Nakuru

These inspections have significantly contributed to the successful implementation of the projects.

The President has admitted in many forums that road infrastructure has defined his first term in office. Are you seeing yourself being promoted for spearheading the plan to build new roads? 

Teddy Mulatya, Mombasa

Currently, the President has accorded me the opportunity to serve as PS. I serve at the prerogative of the President and I give my best in public service.

The Ugunja-Ukwala-Ruambwa Road in Siaya County is supposed to have been tarmacked, but there’s not an inch of tarmac on the road. When will the work on the road commence?

Derek Liech, Siaya

The contract for the construction works for this very important road has been awarded and works will commence in June 2017.

There is a bump on Northern bypass just after Two Rivers Mall incline heading towards Kiambu Road. What do you think of this?

 Naftali Waburi, Kikuyu

We recently carried out an audit across the country with a view to establishing how safe the bump locations were. The specific case near the Two Rvers Mall has been assessed and action will be taken.

Sir, I am deeply concerned by the junction at Gitaru connecting Nairobi-Naivasha Highways and Southern bypass especially for the heavy commercial vehicles that have to do a 90-degree turn at Gitaru.

James Gichuru-Rironi

We are hoping that the situation will be rectified by construction of either Western bypass or the main highway. As you are aware, in order to alleviate the problem of traffic congestion, the Government is implementing construction of the Nairobi City bypass roads. 

These are the Northern bypass, the Eastern bypass the Southern bypass and the Western bypass. 

Three of these roads are complete and the only missing link to close the ring is the Western Bypass which will link the Southern bypass to the Northern bypass. A complete interchange will also be constructed at Gitaru. The completion of the interchange will enhance safety of traffic by eliminating conflict of traffic.

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