Sh2 trillion roads Kenya’s top asset, with more planned to spur growth
Posted Thursday, August 9 2012 at 23:00
- Thika Super Highway initially budgeted at Sh25 billion, has shot up to Sh30 billion as a result of change in design and relocating water pipes, sewer lines and electricity lines
Roads are now the government’s most expensive asset valued at about Sh2 trillion.
Roads permanent secretary Michael Kamau told the Nation the country had a network of about 160,000 kilometres currently.
He said 14,000 kilometres are tarmacked and more are being improved daily.
Mr Kamau said the Treasury had increased allocation to infrastructure over the years from Sh165.8 billion to Sh221 billion every financial year of which about Sh24 billion is used annually for maintenance.
He spoke as the construction of the 8.4-kilometre Western Ring Road at Sh1.9 billion was going on in the western part of Nairobi.
But the road at the centre of national attention is Thika Super Highway, set to eventually cost about Sh30 billion.
It was initially budgeted at Sh25 billion, but has since shot up as a result of change in design and relocating of public utilities like water pipes, sewer lines and electricity lines.
Thika Super Highway passes through the trans-Africa highway and the government could not let it choke under traffic jams, according to Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha) director general Meshack Kidenda.
The road links Cairo in Egypt to Johannesburg in South Africa and could not be let to “strangle” traffic.
But politics has inevitably crept in, with presidential aspirant Cyrus Jirongo and lawyer Abdullahi Ahmednasir being some of those claiming that the road was designed to lead to President Kibaki’s rural home of Othaya, claims swiftly dismissed by the government.
Mr Kidenda said the road was designed way before the Narc government came to power in 2003.
“Apart from reducing traffic on the road, the highway is one of the so-called arteries of Africa, which the African Union says should have a free flow at all times,” he said.
He said Mombasa Road, which is choked by jams, was being redesigned to ensure that there was a free flow of cars to the Great Lakes region.
Mr Kidenda said an express lane from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to Rironi was being designed and would, on completion, greatly reduce jams along the highway. The new design by Cowi Consultants would avoid demolition of buildings along the highway.
“The 51-kilometre road, where Haile Salasie to Museum Hill would have a double deck, will be constructed in three phases that will start from JKIA to Likoni Road, Likoni to James Gichuru and James Gichuru to Rironi,” he said.
The road would ensure that most motorists who don’t have any business in the city centre use the upper section of the road as they proceed with their journey to the western side of the city.
“The number of vehicles is increasing at a fast rate and being an entrance to landlocked countries, most cars are jamming our roads, hence the need to come up with new, better roads,” said Mr Kidenda.