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Upgrade Of Roads From Both Mariakani And Mazeras To
Kilifi Will Radically Improve North Coast Access Options

Coastweek -- The new roads around the Changamwe, Port Reitz and Magongo areas have made life a lot easier for the local residents as well as for travellers who used to have hell prior to the roads being opened. It was a little worse during construction time but at least there was a promise at the end of the punishment, writes TETI KAMUGUNDA.

Currently there is construction taking place on another phase of road improvement.

The access to Mombasa Island from the West mainland is being improved and expanded.

This is part of the work to ease access to and from the island as well as improving movement of traffic all the way to Mariakani as well as join the Dongo Kundu bypass to the South Coast.

With the upgrade and improvement of the road from both Mariakani and Mazeras to Kilifi and the tarmacking of the road from Dzitsoni to the Malindi side of Kilifi it will radically improve the access options to the popular destinations between Mombasa and Malindi.

This will touch on all types of traffic movement including upcountry travel for commercial and private vehicles, access to and from the North and South Coast areas as well as travel up and down the East African Coast.

The latter will be further improved when the implementation of the coastal highway is completed.

This is still very much works in the pipeline and will obviously be affected by the current debate in the country about the debt burden of the country as well as the budgetary provisions that have been made.

We will look at the budget and its impact next week after absorbing and analysing the minutiae.

Quality of construction of roads has always been an issue and with the coming of the Chinese contractors, starting with the Thika Highway, there was a step change in the speed and quality of construction of roads.

The eyes of the Kenyan public were opened as to what could be done and our local contractors, whose spiral had been downwards in terms of the quality and speed, suddenly change direction and their spiral went upwards.

Construction costs per unit, whether it was in cost per square metre of road or housing, began to tumble down especially since these initial contracts were from government to government and were part of grants or aid as opposed to soft long term loans.

This meant that the granting agency was in major control of awarding the contracts and the receiving country = Kenya in our case – would diligently ensure that they got the best value from the aid by making the money stretch as far as it could.

The recipient country thus provided the checks and balances necessary.

We have since moved on to where our government has gone for soft long term infrastructure loans that are structured by the lender to give them a reasonable return.

These lenders tend to be different kinds of institutions from the banks that we know.

They deal in mega amounts that have initial grace periods to allow the borrower to construct whatever they are constructing before they start making payments and the rates of interest are even lower than the savings rates that you and I are used to (which are low anyway!).

This means that we are back to the wheeler dealer days when tenders were launched by the various state agencies with targeted delivery organisations in mind.

The organisations that were invited to tender for the delivery of the project or service and then prequalified would already have been compromised by some members of the party that is calling for the tender.

The stakes, I am told, have become higher, especially since the colluding parties are now members of cartels that are linked to the very high echelons of the party that is calling for the tender.

Let us brace ourselves for a drop in quality and an increase in price for the delivery of important infrastructure and service projects especially as politics and elections permeate all levels of public service delivery – in a negative way.

Political pressure in a democratic society was always meant to provide the checks and balances that ensured that wananchi would see tangible benefits from the taxes they paid.

The reality in Kenya is that we do not see these tangible benefits across the country as largesse is delivered to “compliant” communities that vote the way that is expected.

The “mtu wetu” culture has engrained itself into our society and unless we get rid of this we will find ourselves continuing on the downward spiral that has been gathering momentum since the end of the Kibaki era.

It is up to us, wananchi who are patriots and are willing to see the country be an efficient deliverer of services to its citizens, to become the safeguard that ensure efficient and cost effective delivery of infrastructure and service to our country.

As Kachumbari says, anyone for dinner

 

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