The Kenya National Highways Authority is on the spot following the unclear fate of Sh800 million footbridges that were reportedly being welded in China and whose delays have now exceeded two years.
The roads agency’s officials, who have been changing expected completion dates of the project, have gone quiet about it and the project has stalled throwing the fate of the four footbridges, which have been in the plan for the highway since August 2017 in limbo.
KeNHA Director General Peter Mundinia who had told Nation in July the structures were already being shipped from China for installation by August, has declined to comment on what became of the footbridges.
Calls and texts were not responded to since mid-last week as Mundinia who earlier pledged to have the four footbridges installed June 2019, kept sending automated texts promising to ‘call later.’
The KenHA boss who has always maintained that the plan to weld the metals in China was a cheaper and faster option even sent a team of KenHA officials to China in July to inspect the structures before they were shipped into the country.
“Our team was in China to do an inspection before they are shipped. We are also making the slabs ready so that once they arrive, we will just need two weeks to fix them and open for use,” Mr Mundinia said in July, blaming a slower pre-export inspection for the delay in shipping the metal structures.
His assistant director for Corporate Communications, Mr Charles Njogu, referred us to the DG after attempts to reach him over the issue.
Mr Njogu who in May remained optimistic that the project would start in earnest with the first two located in Witeithie (around Thika) and the other one near the Mangu School once the structures arrived in June, did not want to comment on the matter Thursday.
An official within the Transport ministry who did not wish to be quoted said questions over the ‘imported’ footbridges had generated heat within the ministry with concerns that there may never have been such a procurement to weld the bridges in China in the first place.
“That matter has been hot here and I think some investigative agencies have been asking KenHA hard questions. The rationale was to make it faster but as you can see it is taking so long that even the interchange being constructed by the Kenya Urban Roads Authority will be completed before the footbridges are started,” the official said.