Road construction is an area in which the government has lately won accolades all around.
Good roads ease transportation of goods and passengers and cut costs, boosting business.
The good roads that have sprang up across the country are also a reflection of development and prosperity. However, when roads are shoddily done, the benefits end up being short-lived.
A key indicator of the premium attached to good roads is the high number of national and local agencies involved in the construction and maintenance of roads.
The major ones are the Kenya National Highways Authority, the Kenya Urban Roads Authority and the Kenya Rural Roads Authority.
And, of course, every county has its own roads department to manage the colossal local and national resources channelled into these projects.
These agencies are not just custodians of the standards in construction and maintenance; they also have the expertise, personnel and accumulated experience to monitor and ensure that contractors do what is expected of them.
It is, therefore, disappointing to note that some road construction firms are fleecing the country of billions of shillings under the very nose of these professional organisations.
We have cases where some contractors start with a flourish only to later abandon projects or just do shoddy work.
This boils down to lack of proper supervision. It’s inconceivable that, with all the scrutiny and approvals, a contractor would just, soon after beginning work on a project, abandon it, alleging financial difficulties.
Of course, such projects end up being awarded again at an extra cost. This wastefulness is unforgivable.
The Auditor-General’s report on Kerra for last year details how billions of shillings allocated for building rural roads have gone to waste.
The supervision of road projects must be enhanced so that the public gets value for money from these undertakings.