Kenya has a total road network of 230,000 kilometres but only about half of it is in good or fair condition, a new audit showed, an indication of the huge task ahead in infrastructure upgrade.
As at January 2016 the country had a gazetted total road network of 161,456.4km comprising of 39,995.1 km categorised as national trunk roads and 121,456.4km of county roads. The data was based on the road inventory and condition survey carried out between 2007 and 2009 and covered roads with way-leaves greater than nine meters.
The Kenya Roads Board (KRB) in partnership with the World Bank in August 2016 undertook a fresh audit that covered all roads including narrow ones which are less than nine meters wide. A large component of the country’s road network consists of narrow roads and tracks with reserves of between six to nine metres and had previously not been mapped.
The new audit revealed that 57 per cent of the country’s total road network is currently in either good or fair shape, albeit an improvement from 44 per cent in 2009 due to larger funds disbursements through the Roads Maintenance Fuel Levy (RMFL).
An estimated 33 per cent of paved roads across the country were certified as in good condition in 2018, while 48 per cent were found to be in fair condition.
About 30 per cent of gravelled roads were in good condition in 2018 while 41 per cent were in fair condition.
“A bigger percentage of the unpaved county network is either poor or very poor, indicating the need for more resource allocation to upgrade the roads,” the KRB said.
Industry estimates showed that about Sh70 billion is required for the maintenance of the entire road network annually, exclusive of the backlog for maintenance. Allocations towards road maintenance are made through RMLF collections.
The KRB said fuel levy collections increased by about 30 per cent following the rise of the fuel levy rate from Sh12 to Sh18 per litre in June 2016.
The projected annual collection for the financial year 2018/2019 is Sh68.996 billion.
“This collection is however still inadequate for road maintenance given that backlog in maintenance has not been addressed fully, and that a total of Sh11.18 billion will be allocated to the Road Annuity Fund,” KRB said.
Faced with fund deficits for road maintenance, the government through KRB is considering alternative road maintenance financing mechanisms such as incorporating long-term infrastructure bonds, public private partnerships, introducing levies on motor vehicle insurance and annual licences, and levies on outdoor advertisements.
It is estimated that these sources would yield Sh60 billion in additional funds annually.
“Further, KRB is currently undertaking a detailed review of road construction materials with the view of recommending cost-effective materials for road development and maintenance.
“Other potential savings are expected to be realised from revised road construction specifications and contract documents,” KRB said.
Roads constitute the most important mode of transport in the country, accounting for the transportation of more than 95 per cent of all freight and passenger traffic.