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Agency defends Sh7m a kilometre road repair cost

Ongoing repair works on Kagundo Road on August 15
Ongoing repair works on Kagundo Road on August 15. The Sagana-Kagio-Kianjiri road will cost Sh776m for three- year maintenance. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG 

Kenya National Highways Authority (KENHA) is spending Sh7 million to maintain each kilometre of the Sagana — Kagio road in central Kenya.

The 36.2-kilometre stretch whose maintenance was awarded to a M/s Cement for a three-year contract will gobble Sh776.5 million from March 2018 to March 2021, according KENHA documents.

Out of the 12 roads awarded for similar maintenance arrangements, seven will need at least Sh1.3 million per kilometre to keep in shape every year in what now raises eyebrows on the cost of maintaining roads.

But KENHA director-general Peter Mundinia disputed the claim that the amount was for maintaining the Sagana two-way class C road, saying it was being ‘rehabilitated’ instead.

“This is rehabilitation work; it is more than periodic or routine maintenance. It can only be compared with one of its kind,” said Mr Mundinia.

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The tender awarded under reference number KENHA/1923/2018, however clearly marks the works as “periodic maintenance of Jn A2 Sagana — Kagio — Jn B24 Kianjiru (B25) Road.”

The Bondo — Usenge — Osieko road which spans 33.4 kilometres is also under a similar plan with some Sh5.8 million being spent for every kilometre per year to maintain the road under a Sh583 million contract, also expiring in 2021.

Kericho — Kaplong, Kitale — Sibanga — Kachibora and Meru- Kangeta-Laari- Mutuati — Kamweline roads gobble at least Sh1.6 million for every kilometre to maintain, which includes removal of any road encroachments, repair of potholes as well as keeping road markings and signage visible.

KENHA had resorted to periodic maintenance after Thika Superhighway, which was earlier awarded to Nairobi-based Interways Works for some Sh1.5 million per day raised concerns as to whether it was the cheaper option.

The road accounted for 26 percent of the total money spent on some 16 major highways (1,239 kilometres) in the period spanning 2016-2018.

The firm was paid Sh1.08 billion to maintain the road linking Nairobi and Thika.

KeNHA’s assistant director for corporate communications Charles Njogu defended the approach saying such performance-based maintenance contracts had enabled the Authority to better maintain its road network in a ‘more efficient and timely manner’, besides enhancing road safety.

The Nairobi Southern bypass was maintained for Sh5.6 million per month under a Sh135 million deal for two years.

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