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Sh70b needed for tattered roads

NAIROBI, October 8 – The Roads Ministry has said it requires about Sh70 billion to improve the country\’s infrastructure.

Acting Roads Minister Chris Obure told reporters on Wednesday that although the government planned to issue a Sh52 billion infrastructure bond, the money was still inadequate to finance the construction and rehabilitation of the road network.

"Our budgetary provisions are not enough and that is why we need additional funding. We reckon that we would require $1billion to open up new roads in the country," he said.

Mr Obure explained that the availability of sufficient finances would enable the roads sub-sector to achieve its target of building 64,000 kilometres of a well maintained network which would be instrumental in the realisation of the country\’s Vision 2030.

"The development of good roads will contribute greatly to the achievement of the vision besides supporting the growth of the various sectors of the economy such as manufacturing, tourism and financials sectors," he added.

He spoke during an induction course for board members of the three roads authorities – the Kenya National Highways Authority, Kenya Rural Roads Authority and the Kenya Urban Roads Authority – that are expected to reduce bureaucratic procedures and improve efficiency in the roads sub-sector.  A maintenance backlog is estimated to cost the country Sh200 billion every year.

 "The authorities will provide a good institutional framework to manage the roads. It is expected that the boards will put in place a process that will stop the deterioration of our road network," the minister explained.

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The government appointed 14 members to sit on the boards of the three authorities in April this year for a period of three years. Permanent Secretaries in the ministries of Finance, Roads and Local government also sit on the boards which are each expected to have a Director General\’s post.

Meanwhile, Mr Obure said the government intends to come up with a law on the registration of contractors. He said upon the enactment of the Bill, whose draft is before the Cabinet, the government would be able to regulate the conduct of contractors.

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In the meantime however, he revealed that they had included stringent provisions in the agreement with road contractors in order to reduce the number of rogue builders in the country.

"We are also excluding the cowboy contractors such as those who fail to complete government projects," he added.

The government had in the past threatened to blacklist contractors and suppliers who are bent on defrauding it by doing shoddy work.

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