, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 8 – The Jubilee Administration has defended its track record on road infrastructure, fighting off perceptions that it is simply ‘finishing off’ projects initiated by former President Mwai Kibaki.
At a State House Summit on Transport and Infrastructure held on Monday, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia went out of his way to enumerate projects the Jubilee Administration has initiated in an effort to improve on the road network.
“By the time we came to office in June 2013 only about 14,000Kms of road had actually been tarmacked out of a total stock of 160,000Kms. We only had 3,500 of tarmac on inter-rural roads so His Excellency the President agreed to launch what we call the Low Volume Roads Programme,” he said.
In terms of highways, he said the Jubilee Administration would in a month’s time commission the Isiolo-Moyale portion of the Lamu-Moyale road envisioned under the LAPSSET Corridor Project.
“It is 95 percent done,” Macharia said of the 508km stretch. “Ethiopia has got 100 million people. Now this road which is going to Moyale certainly will now link that very big population and therefore facilitate trade and investment across this side of the border.”
On the other side of the border, Ethiopia is in the process of meeting their side of the deal; constructing a 500km stretch from Moyale to Hawassa. “Although they are nowhere near 95 per cent,” Macharia said.
Although Kenya is making progress, he said, it needs to pick-up the pace to fully take advantage of donor funding. “Sometimes you’ll find that donor funds have been returned to the donors because it’s not been taken up.”
Through it all though, President Kenyatta said financial prudence was imperative to keep the cost of already expensive ventures down.
Inflated costs, Macharia said, was one of the reasons Cabinet approved a Lands bill which shield government from speculators. “That will make sure when you have these big projects like LAPSSET, the SGR, we actually have a way of getting this land in a more economic manner.”
READ: Transport CS James Macharia talks plans to get Nairobi traffic flowing
Another project Kenya has secured funding for, from the African Development Bank, is for the construction of a second runway at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. “This will avoid planes queuing before take-off,” Macharia said.