Boosting rural infrastructure: Smooth progress in upgrade and rehabilitation of access roads

The County Government of Kiambu has devised a new framework for opening up rural and feeder access roads, which Governor Kimani Wamatangi says has reduced the cost of construction from Sh6 million to Sh400,000 each and enhanced efficiency.

Mr Wamatangi said since he came into office, the regional government has assembled road construction units  comprises of dozens  of county-owned graders, roller compactors, trucks, water bowsers, and excavators which have been opening up new roads and undertaking routine maintenance on feeder roads at a significantly reduced cost.

The excavators have been stockpiling murram and other road construction materials from quarries owned by the county, which Wamatangi said has reduced the cost of the graveling material to only fueling the excavators and ferrying trucks.

This, Wamatangi said has also enhanced efficiency, saying the County Executive Committee Member in the Department of Roads, Transport, Public Works and Utilities Mburu Kangethe, his Chief Officer Edmound Njihia and director Joseph Kamau, are fully in charge of the projects, including monitoring and evaluating the workmanship.

“A 3km road project that was costing 6 million is now costing Sh400, 000. Previously, the works would be allocated to contractors and the excess funds would be shared among some county officials, leaders, and brokers. That’s why there is an outcry from the disgruntled cartels and their minders who thought I would allow the pattern to continue,” he said yesterday.

Mr Wamatangi said, that since he took office in August last year, the Department of Roads, Transport, Public Works and Utilities has opened up and rehabilitated over 700 rural access roads in 40 out of the 60 wards at a rate of four wards per week.

“So far, we have graded over 700 rural access roads in various wards, and excavation of murrum in public quarries has kicked off in public quarries in Juja, Ruiru, Kabete, Ngoliba and Thika and Limuru sub-counties. We are also souring for other sites in Githunguri, Lari, and Kikuyu. I intend to make all the areas accessible by the next of the year before moving to the next phase of tarmacking. I have an elaborate plan to source funding for that,” Wamatangi said.

The governor however said the road works are being hampered by the ongoing heavy rains, but any day the rains subsidize works resume in the wards and pleaded for understanding and patience from the members of the public.

Initially, the county has been floating tenders for the rehabilitation of rural access roads, some of which have been costing up to Sh6 million each, with over 500 percent of the money reportedly going to brokers and unscrupulous officials who demand hefty kickbacks.

Corruption, the governor said, has been thriving in the previous framework, saying the roads department may have paid over Sh900 million for road rehabilitation and maintenance works during the previous regime, while a senior officer has admitted the genuine contracts only totaled Sh175 million for the total works.

“That could have been a Sh800 million loss in one year by a single department. But what we have adopted has eliminated brokers and other dealers because all we have to do is deploy our equipment operated by our staff. The extra cost we are incurring is for just fueling and just the necessary allowances” said Wamatangi.

Kangethe said the county is working on assembling road construction units in each of the 12 sub-counties.

With such an arrangement, we will have work continue in all the wards throughout the year. It will enhance service delivery,” he said.