Infrastructure crucial for economic development – Kenya News Agency
Roads have long been considered the primary means of connectivity which account for over 80% of total passenger and freight transport in Kenya, with the remainder of around 7% being mainly transported by rail and air.
Kenya represents a vital lifeline for neighboring landlocked countries as the largest economy in East and Central Africa, with over 1,400 kilometers of coastline and the region’s largest and busiest port, Kilindini Harbuor. Therefore, its transportation network is critical to the future growth of the country and the region.
Kiambu County Development Implementation Coordination Committee (CDICC) Chairman Wilson Wanyanga, who is also the Kiambu County Commissioner, says he is impressed with the progress of the Mau-Mau road project which will cross four counties including Nyandarua, Nyeri, Murang’a and Kiambu.
“This is the first Mau-Mau project underway and to visit the current road the sections are a dream come true and a lot of work has been done. We will help contractors meet deadlines and work uninterrupted, ”Wanyanga said during a visit to the project two weeks ago.
The progress of road infrastructure is part of the “ Vision 2030 ” strategy, which aims to make Kenya a newly industrialized middle-income country by 2030 by developing an integrated network of highways, railways, ports, airports and waterways.
Building road infrastructure is also seen as a key part of the “big four” agenda, which aims to ensure food security, affordable housing, manufacturing and affordable health care.
Infrastructural developments are widely recognized as supporting commercial, agricultural and industrial production in addition to increased investment, thus facilitating the government’s development plan which includes the legacy of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Speaking during the site visit, Kiambu County Engineer Judith Songok recalled the genesis of the project and mentioned that it aims to celebrate the Mau-Mau heroes who traveled from Nyeri to Murang’a and then arrived in Kiambu during the pre-colonial era.
“There will be better connectivity with other main roads in the region. The Mau-Mau route will facilitate the movement of passengers and freight while improving access to national and regional markets for the region’s agricultural and industrial products, ”said Engineer Songok.
As outlined in the second National Medium-Term Plan (MTP) of Vision 2030, which covers the period 2013-17, the government hopes to build and rehabilitate around 5,500 km of roads, including around 3,825 km of national roads and 1,675 km of departmental roads. . , by 2018.
Approximately 1,700 km of roads for non-motorized transport, including paths and sidewalks, will be constructed and 800 km of new roads will be designed. Some 4,257 km and 1,735 km of national and county roads, respectively, will also be maintained periodically.
Kenya has a total road network length of 160,886 km and according to PwC Kenya’s current road network inventory it is estimated to be 177,500 km comprising 63,000 km of classified roads and 114,500 km of unclassified roads administered by various government departments.
This includes national roads, district roads (and unclassified rural roads), urban roads and special roads (i.e. park roads) which are administered by the Roads Department, the Committee. of district roads and county councils, city and town councils and various government agencies.
KenHA Engineer James Mwitari explained to the CDICC team during the tour that the scope of the project includes asphalt construction of the Mau-Mau road of approximately 112.6 km.
“Since the concept is to build an international road, we also need to work simultaneously on the secondary roads that will connect the counties of Nyandarua, Nyeri, Murang’a and Kiambu,” said engineer Mwitari.
“Earthmoving to formation level takes time, as it involves clearing the bush over the entire 22 km stretch and also involves construction in layers using different materials, but the finishing process takes little. time, ”added Engineer Mwitari.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) Economic Survey 2020, the government has continuously invested in the construction and rehabilitation of road infrastructure across the country in order to stimulate economic growth in all sectors.
Total government spending on roads is expected to increase 10.0 percent to 169.9 billion shillings in 2019/20, from 154.5 billion shillings in 2018/19.
Likewise, development spending is also expected to increase by 15.5 percent to reach 111.7 billion shillings in 2019/20. Spending on road maintenance and repair is also expected to increase to 58.2 billion shillings during the same period.
The World Bank has been a major supporter of Kenya’s road rehabilitation efforts over the past 14 years, with more than $ 1 billion in funding from the International Development Association (IDA).
Engineer Monica Abonyo, deputy director of KeNHA, further highlighted the benefits of the project for residents of Kiambu County, saying it would open up the region and improve transportation services.
“The overall objective of the project is to reduce travel time, reduce road operating costs, further open roads to investment and employment opportunities and reduce accidents. inclusion in terms of schools, hospitals, markets, ”added engineer Abonyo.
“The roads will facilitate the movement of passengers and freight and further improve access to national and regional markets for agricultural and industrial products, there will be better intercountry connectivity which will strengthen decentralization, leading to the development of larger economic blocs.
There is a need to support rural development by investing in rural road networks for recovery in the post-Covid era. Increased investment and prioritization of the development of rural road networks is needed as a paradigm shift towards the historical focus on the traditional network.
The contribution of small-scale agriculture to the entire agricultural sector of the country is not left out either. Small-scale agriculture makes a major contribution to household consumption, with a large percentage of small-scale farmers producing mainly for their subsistence. Purchases represent 68.3% of overall food consumption, while self-production represents 18%.
Livelihood efficiency has cushioned household consumption, hence food security during this difficult time of the Covid-19 pandemic, through lockdowns and home-keeping protocols.
Citizens have turned to subsistence farming following work disruptions linked to the pandemic.
Improving road networks would not only improve producers’ access to input and output markets, but also connectivity, accessibility and market integration, all of which have a significant impact on trade rates, reducing transaction costs and better price transmission, which will affect purchased consumption and therefore food security in the region.
Kenya’s attempts to modify its strained transport network appear to be progressing, with government spending and foreign investment having increased dramatically in recent years.
Despite intensifying competition, continued delays in road and port projects and a multitude of non-tariff barriers, the government’s commitment to improve transport indicators has already resulted in steady growth in the rail, port, road segments. and maritime.
These innovations, combined with recent regulatory reforms and an ambitious plan to expand and strengthen the aviation network, should help the country continue to attract foreign investment, enabling it to achieve the goals of Vision 2030 to become a true regional power.
By Velma Mukhwana