Kenya requires more than Sh1 trillion over the next five years to maintain its roads to address unreliable access which is negatively affecting economic growth.
The road inventory and condition report by the Kenya Roads Board (KRB) shows 38 per cent of the classified road network is in poor conditions or dilapidated.
The poor state of the roads is linked to a backlog of maintenance due to the lack of a structured road repairs plan.
The KRB said huge sums are needed to bring the affected roads to maintainable level.
“Estimates under the Desired Road Condition Mix Budget Scenario show a total financial outlay of Sh1.033 trillion will be required over the next five years to fully cover the backlog road maintenance and development,” said KRB in the 2018 State of the Roads report.
Currently, the survey says, 62 per cent of 100,490Km of roads in the country are in maintainable state.
The report comes at a time the country is grappling with floods that have cut off roads, severely affecting the flow of traffic ahead of the holiday season.
The survey conducted between August 2016 and November 2018 showed that the general network condition of Kenyan roads have improved significantly. The proportion of roads in good condition increased to 56 per cent in 2018 from 44 per cent in 2009.
Kenya’s road network increased from 160,886kkm in 2009 to approximately 246,757km, an improvement linked to better funding and administration of the road network maintenance.
At 70 per cent average (road) access index, the report says, “Kenya ranks among the best in Africa and within the top 100 worldwide.”
The country has a paved road network of a meagre 11 per cent and much of its unpaved network consists of 57 per cent of earth roads.
This has made Kenyan roads particularly vulnerable to climate stressors, including flooding, higher temperatures and increased precipitation/rainfall, the report says.
The survey mapped 50,282km of narrow roads (4m-9m wide), which are estimated to be half of all roads within the country.
Narrow roads are not part of classified road network, meaning, their maintenance is not covered under the Road Maintenance Levy Fund.
The KRB has proposed that narrow roads be managed by county governments and assigned new road class.
Infrastructure, the report says, plays a role in economic growth and poverty reduction and lack of it affects productivity and increases costs of doing business.
Roads, it adds are the primary mode of transport in Africa for both freight and passengers. Over the years, inadequate financing has hindered road development across the continent.
Kenya, like other economies in the world, largely depends on its road network for transportation of passengers, goods and services.
Lack of good roads has been cited as the cause of marginalisation of some parts of Kenya. The government has carried out three road inventory and condition surveys since 2001 to give an updated status of Kenyan roads.
The study provides informs various decisions including planning for road maintenance.