Economy

Chinese firms now capture bulk of KURA roads

road

Contractors hired by the Kenya Urban Roads Authority re-carpet Kimathi Street on Tuesday, June 09, 2020. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

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Summary

  • An analysis by the Business Daily shows Chinese contractors controlled 50 percent of Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) projects worth Sh25.5 billion that were undertaken last year.
  • The data shows that Chinese contractors have overtaken Kenyan companies, which account for 13.3 billion or 26.2 percent of KURA road contracts.
  • The data compiled from active roads in 2021 shows Chinese firms are also the ones building the more lucrative Kura roads.

Chinese companies now control half the value of urban road contracts across the counties, expanding their dominance from the national highways.

An analysis by the Business Daily shows Chinese contractors controlled 50 percent of Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) projects worth Sh25.5 billion that were undertaken last year.

The data shows that Chinese contractors have overtaken Kenyan companies, which account for 13.3 billion or 26.2 percent of KURA road contracts.

Chinese companies are already dominant in the national trunk road segment, controlling 85 percent the value of Kenya National Highway Authority (KeNHA) contracts.

Kenyan companies rank third among Kenha roads at six percent behind Japan’s eight percent of the major road work linking counties and national towns.

The dominance of Chinese companies has left a bitter taste in the mouth of local contractors who are now losing out even on county roads and real estate projects.

“The Chinese companies are now doing Kerra (Kenya Rural Roads Authority) class D roads. Kenyan companies who used to be awarded these contracts have been forced out only for the Chinese companies with shared apartment addresses to be awarded six to 10 jobs,” a local contractor said.

The data compiled from active roads in 2021 shows Chinese firms are also the ones building the more lucrative Kura roads.

The Chinese are doing 14 road projects worth Sh25.5 billion while Kenyan companies control 22 road projects worth Sh13.3 billion.

Tosha Holdings is upgrading Upper Hill Roads and Eastlands Roads Phase I and constructing Thika Bypass.

Popular China Wu Yi Ltd is building Waiyaki Way-Redhill Link Road to bitumen standard and Kenyatta University Footbridge over Railway Line while H-Young (EA) Limited is constructing Meru Bypass Roads, rehabilitating Eastleigh Roads Phase II and building Ngong Road–Kibera–Kungu Karumba–Langata Road to bitumen standard.

Sinohydro is undertaking the Nairobi Outering Road Improvement Project, Tinfra Engineering is rehabilitating Mathare Roads, while China Qingjian Int. Group is dualling Ngong Road (Dagoretti Corner-Karen Roundabout Section).

Construction of Kangundo Road–Greater Eastern Bypass Link Road is being undertaken by China Aerospace Construction Group while the improvement of Lady Irene-Mandizini-Muslim-Nambaya-Junction in Bungoma is being done by Isfahan Contractors. Nakuru CBD roads are being constructed by Weihai International Economic & Technical Cooperative Co. Ltd.

China’s influence on Kenya’s mega projects development started gathering steam with the construction of the Thika Superhighway between January 2009 and November 2012 at a cost of nearly Sh32 billion in the last term of President Mwai Kibaki.

Chinese companies’ dominance has grown under the Jubilee government, with CRBC and CCCC having bagged the lion’s share of Kenya’s mega projects — at least two railways, two ports and 23 road projects.

The projects include the $3.5 billion (Sh393.82 billion) standard gauge railway (SGR), a $398 million (Sh44.78 billion) oil terminal at the Mombasa port and road projects such as Southern and Eastern Bypass in Nairobi.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said Chinese companies bring very skilled people, put offsite facilities to do pre-casting, work 24 hours, manage their cost component very well and are very fast in terms of making decisions.

For instance, the Nairobi Expressway launched in October 2019, is 80 percent complete.

The SGR -- China’s biggest project -- was initiated on December 12, 2014, and completed on May 31, 2017, 18 months ahead of schedule.

In comparison, negotiations with a European consortium to dual the Rironi-Mau started in September 2016 are yet to be concluded.

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