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Museum Hill interchange ready by July

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 12 – The major traffic snarl-ups experienced along Waiyaki Way and Limuru Road, Nairobi are expected to ease in about three months when the construction of the Museum Hill interchange and the Ojijo Road flyover are completed.

The interchange and the flyover are part of the larger works on the Muthaiga Roundabout – Uhuru Highway section in the construction of the Thika Superhighway.

Roads Permanent Secretary Eng Michael Kamau said on Thursday that while facilities such as street lighting would not have been supplied by the time, these sections would be ready for use.

"We shall have sectional completions. The Museum (Hill) roundabout interchange will be ready by July while the junction between Forest Road and Limuru Road will be done by August and in use," said the PS during an inspection tour of the ongoing works on the eight-lane superhighway.

The expansion of East Africa\’s busiest highway is already taking shape and the PS expressed satisfaction with the progress made despite the delays experienced.

The construction project which spans 50.4 kilometres started in April 2009 with the first phase scheduled to be finished in December 2011. However, it has run into some hurdles, some of which have involved re-routing of power lines and water and sewerage services on the Muthaiga Roundabout – Uhuru Highway section.

"We burst our timelines a long time ago but I\’m happy that we decided to move on and tackle the problems as we go ahead," Eng Kamau said while admitting that they have not completed the compensation of some institutions and individuals who have to be moved to give way for the road works.

And although the government has already paid Sh480 million to the Kenya Power Lighting Company for the re-routing of the power lines along the course, it is also yet to complete payment of a further Sh20 million to the utility firm.

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The expansion, however now seems to be on track after the government replaced some of the previous contractors with Machiri Limited and Motorway Limited that have been able to deliver the services promptly.

Eng Kamau projected that the whole construction project which spans 50.4 kilometres should be completed in February next year although the total cost will have escalated to nearly Sh30 billion.

The project\’s other sections are Muthaiga Roundabout – Kenyatta University and Kenyatta University – Thika where underpasses, expansion of carriageways and subways are to be constructed. It was initially budgeted at Sh27 billion but price adjustments are expected to account for an additional Sh2.7 billion.

The PS reiterated the need to have the improvements done within the set timelines to avoid a further rise of the costs particularly at a time when international crude oil prices were soaring.

Although such escalations are provided for in the Bills of Quantities at 7.5 percent, the soaring fuel prices might see them burst the budget and probably slow down the implementation of the project.

Under the current contract however, the implementers are allowed to vary the costs beyond 15 percent, a leeway that the PS said they are not keen on exploiting.

"If this project is delayed and the fuel prices continue going up, then we have serious challenge of the amount of money that we are going to pay in terms of Variation of Price (VOP). Everything here be it the greases, the lubricants, the bitumen is petroleum based so the costs may escalate," he cautioned.

Besides easing traffic flow in several roads in Nairobi, the completion of the highway is expected to contribute to the improved performance of the economic sectors and the delivery of social services both in Kenya and in the neighbouring countries such as Ethiopia.

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