Columnists

Building inclusive, green urban roads network

radaar

Ongoing construction of Likoni Road by Cementers Limited contracted by Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA). PHOTO | MARK MUNYWOKI | NMG

Summary

  • The ongoing urban roads development and rehabilitation programme is quickly transforming lives and livelihoods in the country’s urban centres.
  • Within a very short time, the country has managed to construct several bypasses and feeder roads and more importantly expanded the existing urban roads to cater to the needs of the country’s growing population.

Achieving UN sustainable development goal (SDG) number 11, which calls on nations to invest in inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable urban roads infrastructure and settlements is at the heart of the government’s development plan under Vision 2030 and the Big Four agenda.

This explains why the Kenya Urban Roads Authority, as a key enabler and driver of Kenya’s growth and development agenda, is focusing on the construction of all-inclusive urban road infrastructure in our cities and urban centres.

This is with the understanding that a reliable and predictable urban road network is vital to a functional transport system, which is central to meeting the socio-economic needs of urban communities and the nation as a whole.

Indeed, this is why infrastructure development in general and roads, in particular, form a key foundation of Vision 2030.

The SDG requirement is that the road infrastructure be inclusive by meeting the needs of persons in vulnerable situations such as those living with disabilities, women, children and senior citizens.

Additionally, and to mitigate against the impacts of climate change and in partnership with other government agencies and development partners, we are in the process of building a climate-resilient road network in line with the National Climate plan to ensure minimal emissions by motorized transport and encouraging more use of environmental-friendly transport such as bicycles.

The ongoing urban roads development and rehabilitation programme is quickly transforming lives and livelihoods in the country’s urban centres, through the provision of a seamless transport system, which has significantly improved the quality of mobility and connectedness between one point to another. Towns such as Lamu now have a well-developed road infrastructure.

Through the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA), massive construction of inclusive road infrastructure, including link roads, has been undertaken to seamlessly connect various regions and communities to foster fast socio-economic development.

This has facilitated access to critical amenities within a very short time, saving on time and fuel costs. It has also led to the decongestion of the traditional access roads within the towns and those inter-connecting urban centres.

Within a very short time, the country has managed to construct several bypasses and feeder roads and more importantly expanded the existing urban roads to cater to the needs of the country’s growing population.

The ongoing implementation of an Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) by KURA in Nairobi is expected to be a key mitigation measure against climate change as it will result in reduced traffic, fewer vehicles on the roads and minimal carbon emissions.

The revamped infrastructure has also led to the growth and development of roadside towns which wouldn’t have been possible in the absence of such roads.

Such developments, therefore, have been key in ensuring the country fulfils various national and international obligations and commitments Kenya is a signatory to in line with Vision 2030, the Big Four Agenda and the SDGs.

For Kenya to become a newly-industrialising, middle-income country, as envisaged under Vision 2030, and to transform the country into a globally competitive and prosperous nation with a high quality of life, a robust, reliable and high connectivity road infrastructure is a necessity.

That notwithstanding, the continued improvement of the roads infrastructure, although with some short-term challenges, is also wholesomely addressing objectives of the other three pillars of Vision 2030. Without proper roads, the social pillar which seeks to invest in the people through education and training will be a hard nut to crack.

Equally, the political pillar focusing on decentralisation of power relies on proper infrastructure to facilitate easy movement and interaction of persons from different regions in support of national cohesion.

Needless to emphasise that inclusive road infrastructure is central to the attainment of key objectives of the Big Four agenda: food security, universal healthcare, affordable housing and manufacturing.

Indeed, a critical analysis of all the seventeen SDGs buttresses the fact that a good road network is a key driver in their realization.

After all is said and done, we would be totally right to argue that for Kenya to expand her economic scope and live up to her full potential, there is an urgent need for Kenya to continue investing a modern and climate-resilient road infrastructure so as to fast-track progress towards achieving Vision 2030.

Our pledge is that soon Kenyans will have a new experience once KURA successfully implements the Bus Rapid Transit(BRT) system on identified corridors within the City of Nairobi to improve public transport and therefore ease traffic congestion.

Kinoti is the Director-General at Kenya Urban Roads Authority