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Kenya President talks tough on roads

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 21 – President Mwai Kibaki said on Friday that government institutions involved in road transport will be held accountable for damaged roads and directed relevant ministries to work out modalities of certifying compliance with stipulated axle-weights.

The President noted that the Port of Mombasa and Kenya Pipeline depots – two of the key sources of cargo vehicles on Kenyan roads- must take responsibility for damage caused on new roads due to excess axle-weight.

President Kibaki, who was speaking when he launched construction of the Sh8.5 billion Northern and Eastern Bypasses in Embakasi, noted that the past two decades have demonstrated the huge cost implications that result from non compliance to stipulated axle load limits by cargo transporters.

“I am therefore directing the Ministers for Roads, Energy and Transport to liaise and work out modalities of ensuring that vehicles loading cargo at the Port and Kenya Pipeline Company depots are certified to comply with the permitted axle-weight limits,” said the President.

The Head of State assured that the government was devoted to modernising and installing the most appropriate public transport system in the city.

He also challenged planners in the country to explore innovative measures to comprehensively tackle transport challenges in major urban centres despite the ongoing efforts to address traffic congestion in Nairobi.

Said the President, “Nevertheless, although these measures are expected to address the problem of traffic congestion in Nairobi in the short-term, they are not adequate to cater for the transportation needs of a rapidly growing urban population.”

“I am glad to note that some effort is being made and the African Development Bank has agreed to finance a study to determine the best options for an appropriate public transport system in the city.  But such a study must be followed by concrete action to give Kenyans the kind of transportation system they rightly deserve.”

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The Head of State assured that the rapid construction of bypasses was particularly intended to tackle traffic congestion aggravated by transit vehicles.

He said plans were underway to construct the Southern Bypass from the old American Embassy along Mombasa road through Dagoretti to Kikuyu town, a distance of about thirty kilometers.
“Sections of the road have already been opened up for use. This bypass is earmarked for construction under the Nairobi Road Toll project to be funded by the World Bank,” remarked the President.

The Head of State also directed the Ministry of Roads to ensure that new roads give provision for bicycle lanes and walkways.

“The building of lanes specifically assigned for cyclists will no doubt encourage more of our urban dwellers to adopt this environment friendly mode of transport that will also serve to reduce vehicle congestion on urban roads,” he said.

President Kibaki termed the launch an important milestone in efforts to upgrade and expand the national, urban and rural road network intended to address the growing transportation needs as well as boost trade and investment within the East African region.

“The construction of the bypasses has now become more urgent, in view of the heavy motor vehicle congestion being now experienced within the city and surrounding areas.”

The project has been funded by the Chinese government. President Kibaki commended Chinese companies for doing quality civil works in the country, but also challenged local contractors to emulate the timely completion of projects by foreign contractors.

The President said infrastructural development projects undertaken in the country by the government are meant to ease transportation produce to the markets and farmers should utilise them to improve on their living conditions.

On politics, the Head of State exhorted leaders to shun empty talk and concentrate on activities that were beneficial to the country’s development.

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