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YEAR ENDER: What Kenyans got in 2019 infrastructure deals

Top on the list is the Sh62.1 billion JKIA-Westlands expressway

In Summary

•Biggest projects this year include mega roads,rail and port developments.

•Low absorption of development expenditure and reductions during supplementary budgets however remain a major risk to infrastructure

Artistic impression of the JKIA-James Gichuru expressway
EXPRESSWAY: Artistic impression of the JKIA-James Gichuru expressway
Image: COURTESY

"Every county in Kenya has at least one major infrastructure project designed to directly benefit mwananchi."

These were President Uhuru Kenyatta's words during Jamhuri Day celebrations in Nairobi on December 12.

The government has been developing key infrastructure projects across the country ranging from roads, ports, rail to energy projects.

 

Roads

Top on the list is the Sh62.1 billion JKIA-Westlands expressway whose construction was commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta on October 16.

The project entails the development of a 77-kilometre double-decker road in Nairobi under a 30-year build-operate-transfer deal.

During the launch, Uhuru said the project will ease traffic along Mombasa Road, saving the time commuters spend along the highway which is prone to heavy traffic.

“It will ensure our capital Nairobi is at per with other developed countries,” Uhuru said during the commissioning.

Questions have however lingered over the impact of the project on Uhuru Park , costs related with relocation of key facilities and the build-operate -transfer model used for the project.

 

The developer, China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), is projected to make Sh186.2 billion in revenues for the 27 years it will operate the road, between 2023 and 2049, before handing over the project to the government.

It is estimated the Chinese contractor will pocket Sh108.5 billion profit in the long run.

Taxpayers are expected to foot a Sh7.7 billion bill to move water, sewerage lines and other facilities from the path of the expressway.

This year, the government also finalised details of the Sh160 billion 87km Nairobi-Mau Summit road which had earlier been rocked with tender rows.

Constructions work was set to commence within two months after Transport CS James  Macharia made an announcement in October that a French firm had been awarded the job.

The Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) however plans to toll the road which will see users part with a fee to use it.

Other road projects include the 84km Isebania–Ahero road. The 9.4 billion project was awarded to The Third Engineering Bureau of China City Construction Group and is scheduled to be completed in 48 months.

Another key project is the ongoing rehabilitation and dualling of the Mombasa-Mariakani road.

“This project entails upgrading the existing two and four-lane carriageway to a six-lane dual carriageway, and is expected to be completed by August 2020,” CS Macharia said during a port stakeholders meeting in Nairobi.

Other projects include the upgrading of the Thika Super Highway and other smaller roads across the country.

More than Sh1 trillion shillings have gone into roads projects in the last one decade, which has increased classified road network to more than 160,000 kilometers from less than 60,000 kilometers a decade ago.

These includes modernization of Thika superhighway, various bypasses in Nairobi, Mombasa, Eldoret and Kisumu.

To support existing and future development, Infrastructure Principal Secretary Paul Maringa has said the country needs to spend Sh1 trillion over the next five years, which will go towards new roads and maintenance of those in place.

In the 2019-20 financial year, Treasury has allocated Sh180.9 billion for on-going roads construction projects as well as the rehabilitation and maintenance of roads.

Rail

The country witnessed the commissioning of both passenger and freight services on the standard gauge railway (SGR).

This is under the second phase of the SGR 120.49km (Phase 2A) project which has now extended operations to Suswa from Nairobi.

The Sh150 billion project was commissioned on October 16, for passenger and December 17 for cargo services which came with the operationalization of the Naivasha Inland Container Deport.

“To date, the Madaraka Express has moved more than 10,000 passengers on the Nairobi-Naivasha route, with demand significantly outstripping our carrying capacity,” the President said on December 17,at the Nairobi Terminus.

Ports

The first berth at the proposed 32-berth Lamu Port was completed in August , setting pace for operationalization of the country's second major sea port.

“The process to equip Lamu Port is ongoing,” KPA head of corporate affairs Bernard Osero told the Star. “We took shipping agencies there and a lot of them have shown interest in using Lamu Port.”

Kisumu Port was refurbished this year at a cost of Sh700 million.

“Kisumu Port is expected to open up the Western Kenya market and further boost regional trade,” KPA managing director Daniel Manduku told the Star in a recent interview.

Other developments include expansion of the Mombasa port second container terminal and construction of the Sh39 billion new Kipevu Oil Terminal.

Energy

In energy, the country became home to Africa's biggest wind power plant after the President commissioned the Sh69 bilion Lake Turkana wind power project.

The 365-turbine wind farm is now delivering 310 megawatts of renewable power to the national grid, a major milestone in adopting clean energy.

On December 13, the President launched a 50-megawatt solar plant in Garissa, further increasing the share of renewable energy to the grid, now at 93 per cent.

The 54.6 megawatt plant is the largest in East and Central Africa.

“This unprecedented enhancement in infrastructure has not been limited to our road network. We have expanded our airports, sea and lake ports and laid the Standard Gauge Railway, ensuring a diversity in transportation that is unrivalled on the continent,” Uhuru said during this year's Jamhuri Day celebrations.

Challenge 

Low absorption of development expenditure and reductions during supplementary budgets especially for infrastructure projects however remain a major risk to infrastructure as a key driver of economic growth, according to the National Treasury.

This is because the delayed completion of projects which, according to Treasury, leads to delayed returns on investment, a move that could hurt achievement of the government's Big Four Agenda.