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Citizen Weekly

Thursday, 22 January 2015

SONKO: HOW I INITIATED THE OUTERING ROAD UPGRADE PROJECT THROUGH A PRIVATE QUESTION IN PARLIAMENT



Residents of Nairobi’s Eastlands will have an easier time accessing the city centre once a road expansion project launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday is completed. The Sh13 billion initiatives will see Outer Ring Road converted into a six-lane highway with interchanges and over-passes as well as the construction of 10 Eastern missing links.

Of the total, Sh8.5 billion will go towards expansion of the 13-kilometre Outer Ring Road while the rest will finance setting up of the missing links covering about 16 kilometres. The two projects are funded by the African Development Bank and the European Union in partnership with the government.


The roads will also have footpaths and cycle lanes. The project is estimated to be completed in 36 months. At the launch on Thursday, President Kenyatta ordered implementing agencies to make sure that the work is completed within the set time-frame without compromising quality.
“The contractors must stick to the time-frame and give first priority to the local youths while hiring workers,” President Kenyatta said.
Uhuru was accompanied by African Development bank Director Gabriel Nagatu, Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko among other government officials. The project that was officialy launched by Uhuru dates back to November 23 2011 when Sonko (then Makadara MP) raised a question in Parliament through a private notice to the then Roads minister Franklin Bett on traffic conjection along Outer ring Road.
Below is the verbatim Hansard of Parliament how Sonko’s question led to the commissioning of the road’s upgrade yesterday by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
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·  Mr. Speaker
Next Question by hon. Member for Makadara.
·  TRAFFIC CONGESTION ON OUTER RING ROAD
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to ask the Minister for Roads the following Question by Private Notice. (a) Is the Minister aware of the frequent traffic snarl-ups on Outer Ring Road, especially at the Donholm and Kariobangi roundabouts, and what immediate and long- term measures will the Government take to remedy the problem? (b) What is the extent of losses, both in man hours and economically, resulting from the delays?
·  Page 8 of Hansard 23.11.11P
·  Franklin Bett (The Minister for Roads)
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to reply. (a) I am aware of the frequent snarl-ups on Outering Road and especially at Donholm and Kariobangi roundabouts. To address the problem, my Ministry through the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) has procured a consultant to undertake the designs for expansion of Outer Ring Road, including improvement of the junctions into interchanges. The designs are expected to be completed by March, 2012. (b) According to statistics available to me from Japan International Corporation (JICA) on transport master plan for Nairobi Metropolitan, Outer Ring Road is one of the roads that have the highest volumes in the City with over 87,000 vehicles per day. It is estimated that 348,169 man hours are lost on Outer Ring Road every day while the financial loss is estimated at Kshs2.8 million per day. The Government is not able to compensate road users for losses arising from congestion. However, the Government has taken a lot of interest on this road and other roads in the country. That is why a lot of effort is being put into improving our infrastructure. Therefore, I urge all stakeholders to exercise patience and understanding as we address the issues.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I appreciate the good work that the Minister and his team, especially the Director General, KURA, Mr. Nkadayo, for what they are doing in Makadara and the entire Nairobi in general. They have recarpeted all the roads in Makadara and Nairobi County is now like New York. The by-passes are all over. My question to the Minister is; since Outering Road links Juja Road, Mumias-South Road in Buruburu within my constituency, Kangundo Road, Jogoo Road, Lunga Lunga Road within my constituency and Airport North Road which links to Mombasa Road--- The Minister has admitted that they have engaged a consultant---
·  Mr. Speaker
Order, hon. Member for Makadara! Come to the Question. I thought you were already there.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am coming to my Question. Since the Minister has admitted that they have engaged a consultant to design this busy Outering Road, could he give an undertaking to this House on when the expansion of this is going to commence?
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I want to thank the hon. Member for the compliments that he has given to my Ministry and my officers. The consultant is due to conclude his work on March, 2012. Soon after that, we are already engaging in discussions with a possible financier, that is, the African Development Bank (ADB), and they have already indicated that they are willing to put aside Kshs3 billion for the expansion of that road into a dual carriageway. I want to indicate that it will be a dual carriageway to all the places the hon. Member has listed.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, while appreciating the effort the Ministry is making to alleviate the problem of congestion in the City and bearing in mind what the Minister has said about a consultant having been engaged, is he also aware of the fact that if you address one section of the City without reference to the rest, then improvement on one has the impact of generating traffic problems in another section? For instance, Thika Road improvement and expansion is going to make this road impassable as a result of traffic flow to the main road.
·  Page 9 of Hansard 23.11.11P
Yes, Mr. Speaker, Sir. We are alive to that situation; that as we improve one road, the congestion increases on another road. In view of the limited financial resources available to us, we cannot do all the roads at the same time. So, we have to go by way of priority, taking into account the volume of traffic on each road. As I indicated the other day, the traffic on Thika Road is the highest compared to any other road. The next is Uhuru Highway and Outer Ring Road.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, in other countries, when there is a problem like this, at least the public are given an apology. When the rains came the other day, people stayed for over five hours on that road. I do not know why he is praising these people because they did not come out to say that they are sorry to Kenyans because they pay taxes and the money is being wasted. My question to him is; who takes responsibility for the wastage and who comes out to say sorry to Kenyans? When are they going to make their drainages on this road?
·  Mr. Speaker
Order! You are supposed to ask one supplementary question at a time. You want to do three?
I was building up the question. Who is building those drainages?
Mr. Speaker, Sir, the drainages are done by the Ministry of Roads and the management of the drainages after we have done them is the responsibility of the Ministry of Local Government, that is, the City Council of Nairobi. They are the ones who as supposed to manage waste in their locality. I want to urge the Ministry concerned to assist me in that regard. By the way, I also want to add that even members of the public contribute in stock piling waste in our drainage by throwing litter anyhow. I want to urge members of the public that let us also be responsible by caring about the placement of litter in our hands.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I also wish to join the rest in congratulating this Minister who is “hands-on” in his work. However, what is he doing to ensure that when these roads are being done, not only in Nairobi, but other parts of the country, contractors put road furniture and all other necessary utilities? He knows very well that we were with him on the Kitui-Mwingi Road. The contractor has completed the road, but there is no signage, and this is the case all over, even in Nairobi. What is he doing to ensure that that is enforced?
Mr. Speaker, Sir, that is a very good question. Every road, on completion and before it is handed over, the engineer in charge has to make sure that the road furniture is in place. I want to assure this House that, that is always the case. As soon as we have cleared away some “animals” - and allow me to say so - come and take them away as scrap metal.
·  Mr. Speaker
Are you, Mr. Minister, by any chance, referring to Kenyans as animals?
·  Hon. Members
Exactly!
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I wish to withdraw!
·  Mr. Speaker
Withdraw and apologize!
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I withdraw and apologize. We placed a very beautiful notice on the Nakuru-Nairobi Highway to warn motorists not to over speed. If you went there, that beautiful signage has now been chopped and all of it taken away. That is the situation on all our roads everywhere in the Republic.
·  Page 10 of Hansard 23.11.11P
Mr. Speaker, Sir, the loss the Minister has told us of Kshs2.8 million a day translates roughly to Kshs1.1 billion a year. We find it very difficult to believe him because just a few months ago, he was all over this place running helter skelter that we give him our okay so that he could then offer concessioning for Uhuru Highway. Nothing has happened! He has never bothered to come to the House to explain why the concessioning project has not taken off. Could we believe him? Is he telling us that he cannot put an earth road on the other side where they want to make a dual carriage way, so that Nairobians can continue moving instead of losing Kshs1.1 billion a year?
Mr. Speaker, Sir, even doing an earth or gravel road needs money. The money I have is not adequate. I want to thank this House because for the past two years, they have authorized the Treasury to release to us over Kshs70 billion for our roads. However, that is almost 20 per cent of what we have always requested for from the Exchequer to do our roads.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, the last time the Minister gave an undertaking on Jogoo Road, he honoured it. In fact, I think all the other lazy Ministers, if there are any, who are sleeping should follow his example.
·  Mr. Speaker
Order, Mr. Mbuvi! You cannot use the word “lazy” in reference to your colleagues in the House. That is imputing improper motive that your colleagues are, in fact, lazy. You need a Substantive Motion. Could you, please, withdraw the word “lazy” and apologize?
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I withdraw and apologize!
·  Mr. Speaker
Very well! Continue!
Mr. Speaker, Sir, my question to the Minister is: Could he give a further undertaking that when the construction works on the Outer Ring Road begin, we will not experience another Syokimau demolition and that the Government will issue notices and compensate all property owners whose properties will be affected by the extension of this road, including the Mutindwa Market?
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I will not give an undertaking not to demolish structures on the road reserves. If structures are on the road, bona fide road reserves, they will have to be removed. My Ministry will, however, endavour to give notice to the illegal occupants of the road reserves. We will even go further to place crosses on all those structures which are on our road reserves. That is the better signal to the owner of the building when they see a marking of the Ministry of Roads on the wall or building or perimeter fence. So, I am sorry if there are members of the public who have constructed structures on the road reserves, I will have no choice, but to remove them to give the people of this country a much needed road.