(Victoria Rubadiri) The issue of vandalism is proving to be a thorn in the side of contractors putting finishing touches on the Thika Superhighway that is nearing commissioning in a few months.
Though the highway has done a lot to ease traffic congestion for motorists, the road furniture that is meant to aid the flow and safety of cars on the road, has been targeted by unscrupulous vandals.
Engineer Jonhnson Matu, who is the Project Director on the Thika Superhighway with APEC Consultants, says efforts to get the road to international standards are being eroded by vandals.
“When we started laying the street lighting cables about three kilometers were stolen and wherever we put a sign it was stolen within the hour. Road furniture ordinarily would be about 10 percent of the construction cost of the road,” he said.
The contractors have resorted to mounting the road signs higher up and even using alternative materials such as hard plastic which is cheaper than the traditional steel, to discourage theft.
Eng. Matu made an appeal to the government to ban scrap metal dealers, who he says have fueled vandalism of crucial road furniture such as street lights, barriers and road signs.
“The government should just ban metal dealers. Kenya does not produce metal and I don’t understand how metal dealers can survive in this market if they don’t steal. I am worried about what Thika Road will look like in two to three years if metal dealing is not banned,” he said.
The relocation of service lines, water pipes and power lines has seen the Highway’s completion date delay from December 2011 to March 2012 to June this year.
The relocation process and land acquisition has cost an estimated Sh5 billion.
Now about 98 percent complete, the Thika Superhighway will have 17 footbridges servicing pedestrians along the 42 kilometre stretch from Nairobi to Thika town.
It is expected to accommodate 300,000 cars daily over the next 20 years.
The contractors will officially hand over the road to the government next month, with the commissioning expected in November this year.