TransCentury bets big on road repair machine


A roads engineer demonstrates how to use the Velocity road and pothole maintenance technology at the Ngong Road-Dagoretti Corner roundabout on February 9, 2016. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU

Avery East Africa, a subsidiary of the NSE-listed infrastructure firm TransCentury, is betting on a Sh50 million potholes repair machine to get a slice of the lucrative roads maintenance contracts.

The machine unveiled Tuesday is mounted on a truck with a powerful hose that can spray a mixture of cold bitumen and fine ballast into a pothole, sealing damaged roads in a few minutes.

Pothole repair in Kenya currently involves manual digging around the area before filling with a hot mixture of bitumen and ballast, which are then compacted using a road-roller.

“The technology has had massive success in the road infrastructure industry, especially in the developed economies. In addition AEA has partnered with National Youth Service to tap into the pool of skilled labour for the equipment operations,” said AEA chief executive Nicholus Kithinji.

The machines are being supplied by a UK company, Velocity, which has been using them to patch potholes in the European country. The purchase price includes cost of personnel training.

The unit has several compartments, including those for bitumen and ballast, which are mixed before being sprayed. Success in selling of the road-repair units could help lift TransCentury’s topline.

The Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed company is currently facing a Sh8 billion bond repayment that falls due in March.

Mr Kithinji said there have not been any orders for the machines as yet.

Kenyan roads are prone to developing potholes due to poor design and construction and weather-related damage.

During rainy seasons, potholes grow wide and deep, causing accidents and leaving motorists with huge repair bills.

Gavin Blogg, a business development manager with Velocity, said use of the machine cuts cost of repair by up to 40 per cent.

Each pothole takes an average of about three minutes to fill. During a demonstration Tuesday, it took about 10 minutes to fill one large pothole.

The national and county governments are spending billions of shillings every year on road repairs.

The units could help contractors cut costs and complete contracts faster.