INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT

Kura's low-cost roads a game-changer in city slums — official

Authority seeks to increase mobility, improve security and make access to goods and services easier

In Summary

•In an interview with the Star on Wednesday Kura Director-General, Silas Kinoti explained how the change of tactics to reduce money spent on projects will bring accessibility to slums through access roads.

•With access roads in place, response to emergency cases such as fire disaster, health access informal settlements will cease to be a struggle.

Kenya Urban Roads Authority Director General Silas Kinoti inspecting road project in Kawangware
Kenya Urban Roads Authority Director General Silas Kinoti inspecting road project in Kawangware
Image: MAUREEN KINYANJUI

Infrastructural development is making its way in Nairobi's informal settlement connecting the areas to major parts of the city through roads.

The Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) late last year embarked on the construction of 408km of access roads in the city's informal settlements.

In an interview with the Star on Wednesday, Kura director-general Silas Kinoti said a change of tactics to reduce money spent on the projects will lead to cheaper accessibility to slums.

“We had started the road projects through the Nairobi Regeneration Programme which ended up covering a few kilometres but spent a lot of funds which was not practical,” Kinoti said.

The Nairobi Regeneration Programme that was started in 2018 after its launch by President Uhuru Kenyatta, was a collaboration between the county and national government.

It focused on infrastructure, transport, housing and settlement, energy, water resources, environment and solid waste.

“With experience from phase one of the regeneration programme, we saw it would make sense to do standard roads,” he said. 

“We wanted to do what we refer to as low-cost roads and do more kilometres and that is when we presented the idea to the Ministry of Transport and the President of doing 408km with Sh5.4 billion,” he said.

The  first phase covered 79.4km of 38 roads in Eastlands and the city centre for Sh2.8 billion

Some of the roads already completed are Ambira and Sakwa, Manyanja, Kayole Spine, Maasai, Airport North, Utawala, Hamza, Rabai, Nile, Bumbani, Heshima, Buruburu Farmers and Lunga Lunga.

Kinoti said Kura established that with little traffic experienced within the informal settlements, what was required was access roads that would open up and connect the areas to the city centre.

The whole access roads project to informal settlements has been divided into three components; roads and drainage which is being undertaken by Kura while water and sewerage is being done by the NMS at Sh2 billion and Sh4.6 billion respectively.

Where possible, Kura will also set the walkways as part of the project but with priority being the roads and drainage.

“Due to lack of space, some of the roads we are constructing are narrow and until recently were being used as walkways by residents since very few households have vehicles,” Kinoti said.

With access roads in place, response to emergency cases such as fire disaster and health access in informal settlements will cease to be a struggle.

The Nairobi county fire department in 2018 expressed concerns that firefighters encounter a lot of challenges while dealing with disaster in informal settlements due to lack of access roads.

Kinoti said Kura has classified the project into nine zones where the 408km will be covered. They include Dandora ( Utawala, Ruai, Mihang'o) 40km, Dagoretti ( Kangemi, Kawagware, Waithaka) – 93.6km, Kibra -22.8 km, Mathare -18 km and Royasambu ( Zimmerman, Kahawa West, Gihurai 44km) – 51km.

Others include Mukuru kwa Njenga – 70 km, Githurai ( Mihoko, Githurai 45 km) 57.5 km, Korgocho -36.3 km) and Kasarani (Mwiki and Kasarani) -42 km.

“We have our contractors on the ground almost in all the zones and on Friday, February 12, Kura had covered 22.18 km,” Kinoti said.

Good roads in populous areas increase mobility, improve security and make access to goods and services easier, he said.

 

Edited by Kiilu Damaris

Kenya Urban Roads Authority Director General Silas Kinoti in an interview with the Star on February 17, 2021
Kenya Urban Roads Authority Director General Silas Kinoti in an interview with the Star on February 17, 2021
Image: CHARLENE MALWA