, KISUMU, Kenya, Jul 24 – President Mwai Kibaki on Friday launched the Sh6.8 billion Kendu Bay – Homa Bay and Homa Bay-Mbita road upgrading projects and reaffirmed the government’s continued commitment towards infrastructure development throughout the country.
Speaking during the launch at Kendu Bay, President Kibaki charged the contractors to complete the upgrading of the roads within the stated contract period. The Head of State said no delays in delivering the projects on time will be tolerated as they deny the country the much needed accessibility and faster movement of people and goods in the development process.
“Construction work for each of these projects will be undertaken over a period of 30 months,” the President said.
In this regard, the President asked all contractors working on the two projects and other projects in the country to ensure that their assignments are completed on time, “so as to reduce cost overruns and save funds for use in other projects.”
Said the President: “The Government’s decision to upgrade these roads arises from the desire to provide all weather roads in this part of the country, in order to facilitate good access to production and marketing centres.”
The 38 kilometres Kendu Bay-Homa Bay road will cost Sh3.4 billion while the 43 kilometres Homa Bay-Mbita road will also cost Sh3.4 billion to upgrade to bitumen standards. The two projects are fully funded for by the Government.
The President emphasised that together with Prime Minister Raila Odinga, they are determined to serve Kenyans and bring about economic, social and political reforms needed to transform the country into a modern society, adding that the Grand Coalition Government is fully committed to the agenda of empowering Kenyans in all ways.
Expressing concern that the Government has been forced to repair and rehabilitate roads at a very high cost after premature pavement failure occasioned by excessive loading of trucks, the President called on respective agencies to vigorously and consistently enforce the set truck weight regulations in order to prolong the life of the roads.
In this connection, President Kibaki directed the Ministry of Roads to put in place proper, adequate and consistent mechanisms to ensure that the public gets value for its money by ensuring quality construction and regular maintenance of all roads throughout the country.
“This will give our tax payers the value for their money in form of much longer usage of good roads,” the Head of State said.
President Kibaki noted that the improvement of the roads is expected to play a pivotal role in boosting the economy of the region particularly in promoting trade and agricultural production, including crop, livestock production and fishing.
He, therefore, urged Kenyans to take advantage of the improved road network to boost their incomes through farming, increased trade and other non-agricultural activities.
“Modern transport plays a very crucial role in facilitating trade and investment both at the national as well as regional level. In particular, the road network is very critical in providing mobility and access to majority of our people since over ninety four per cent of our freight transport and over eighty per cent of our passenger transport is through roads,” President Kibaki said.
The President also commended the Roads 2000 programme for creating employment for the youth and assured that his Government will support the programme even further by strengthening and expanding training of the youth in road improvement and maintenance.
Said the President: “This approach will encourage our young people to become successful small-scale contractors and later grow to become large contractors in road construction and maintenance.”
In addition, President Kibaki said the Government will continue to ensure that there is intensified application of labour intensive methods in road construction and maintenance to boost employment creation.
The President pointed out that the recent launch of “kazi kwa vijana” is an indication of the Government’s commitment to support the youth through creation of additional employment opportunities.
Saying the rate of accidents arising from better roads are unacceptable, President Kibaki called on all motorists to exercise maximum caution especially on modern roads by observing the established speed limits.
“I note with great concern that even as we continue to improve our roads, road-traffic accidents continue to claim many lives. Good roads are expected to bring greater utility, comfort and safety,” the President said.
In this connection, President Kibaki directed the Commissioner of Police to fully enforce traffic laws for the good and safety of pedestrians, passengers and all motorists.
Speaking during the occasion, the Prime Minister said the Grand Coalition Government will not waver in its commitment to serve Kenya and urged Kenyans to unite and support it to achieve the country’s development goals.
The Prime Minister also pointed out that the Grand Coalition Government will continue implementing various reforms geared towards improving the lives of Kenyans.
He disclosed that this financial year the Government has set aside Sh50 billion for construction and rehabilitation of roads in various parts of the country.
On his part, Roads Minister Franklin Bett stressed the need for wananchi to involve themselves in road projects from the planning stage so that they do not complain once the projects take off.
The Roads Minister also said Local Authorities should not seek compensation for roads constructed in their areas by the Government, saying construction of roads in Murang’a have been stopped until the issue is sorted out.
Present were several cabinet members, Assistant Ministers and Members of Parliament.