Eng. Peter Mundinia Director General of Kenya National Highway Authority speaks to Ms. Mercy Nduati of Kenya Engineer on the state of the Kenya National Highways

Eng. Peter Mundinia is the Director General of Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA). He is a practicing engineer with a specialization in Civil engineering. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Nairobi (UON) obtained in 1989 and a Post Graduate Degree in Business Management from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) acquired in 2010. He is a Registered Engineer with the Engineers Board of Kenya (EBK) and a Corporate Member of Institution of Engineers of Kenya (MIEK). He is also a Member of Kenya Institute of Management (MKIM).

Q: How is the experience at the helm of KeNHA?

A: My experience has been good and challenging. The government has been rolling out various road development programmes as the demand for roads in Kenya rise resulting in traffic congestion. These projects have fully engaged me here at KeNHA.

Q: The JKIA- Rironi highway: What is the scope of this project, what does it entail? What financing mechanisms are you looking at and what will the project cost?

A: This is a road improvement project that will ease the perennial congestion experienced in and out of the city of Nairobi. It is one of the three major projects earmarked to decongest the city along the Northern Corridor. Due to the scope of works, the road project has been divided into three lots. First lot is 6.5 kilometer that starts from JKIA to Ole Sereni where the Southern Bypass begins. Lot 2 starts from Ole Sereni to James Gichuru road, a 12 kilometer road and Lot 3 is from James Gichuru to Rironi which is 25 kilometers in length.

Lot 3 has been awarded to China Wu Yi Co. Ltd at a contract sum of KES16.4bn.  Major works to be undertaken involve: reconstruction of the road into a dual carriage highway with 10.5m width (3 lane highway) meaning that the carriageway will be expanded to a six lane highway. It will also consist of service roads and non-motorized transport lanes to enhance road users’ safety and to promote cost effective transportation.

Approximately 16km of collector roads will be upgraded to paved standard to provide connectivity to communities living adjacent to the project road. New storm water drainage systems will be put up to drain excess rain and ground water from the roads and sidewalks, construction of 13 bridges at interchange locations, 21 pedestrian overpasses, 5 underpasses and provision of street lights along the road.

This project will be funded by the World Bank Group and Government of Kenya under the National Urban Transport Improvement Project (NUTRIP), and will take a period of 36 months (3 years) to complete, once a Resettlement Action Plan for the Projects Affected Persons is effected. The Action Plan will be carried out in 12 weeks time.

Other components to be implemented in due course are Capacity Enhancement and Reconstruction of JKIA to Likoni road junction and from Likoni road junction to James Gichuru junction.

The other two lots we expect to cost about KES38m. World Bank is funding Lot 1 while Lot 2, KeNHA has approached African Development Bank for financing.  The World Bank intends to repackage the project to cater for the bus rapid transit system from JKIA to Rironi.

Q: Tell us about the Nairobi western bypass; at 17 billion Kenya shillings some have said it’s too expensive, is it? What is the scope of that project?

A: Western bypass commences from Ndenderu, Kihara, Wangige and Kanjeru connecting the Nairobi-Nakuru highway at Gitaru. This bypass completes the Ring Road around the Nairobi Central Business District (CBD). Due diligence has been undertaken in the preparation and packaging of this development project.

First, a feasibility study and preliminary designs have been carried out to determine project scope and provide guidance on project cost, valuation of works and economic analysis of the project was undertaken by a team of technical experts on civil engineering and economists.  Also, the experts undertook negotiations on the scope of works, standards and specifications for the project to be included in the Commercial Agreement.
Apart from that, necessary presentation of the project proposal to the National Treasury and the Attorney General was done, and approvals obtained.

The scope of works includes a 16.5 kilometer stretch with interchanges and overpasses at Gitaru, Wangige, Ndenderu, Kihara and Ruaka.  It will be a comprehensive road with service lanes of 17.4km and since it will pass through residential areas, we will retain walls and slope protection to palliate against encroachment of the road reserve, noise barriers and common utility service duct among other features.

The project is procured through Engineer, Procure and Construct (EPC) contract at a sum of KES17bn. This sum includes detailed design, the construction and supervision of the project.

When the issue of cost came up we tried to compare this project with other highways like Thika Superhighway, Southern bypass, Kisumu bypass, KWS–Bomas road and James Gichuru Junction to Red hill. The result of this comparison is given in Figure 1.  The EPC model ensures that no variation of prices is incurred during implementation of the project. The cost of the project is competitive and within the construction costs expected in urban areas.  For that reason, the whole issue of cost arose due to lack of information.
Table 1: This is a report from the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development and Kenya National Highways Authority showing how much each highway built in Kenya cost.

Q: During the state house summit, the president was concerned about the cost of roads, are his sentiments valid?

A: Yes his sentiments were valid and these challenges have been there. To this end, we have been able to ensure that not all roads are done with the same standard.  In road construction we consider two types of technologies, concrete and tarmac or bitumen. Concrete also referred to as fixed pavement is slightly more expensive to construct and maintaining it is expensive. Though, its lifecycle is relatively cheap compared to bitumen technology.

For example, for roads passing through agricultural areas, we have used the pavement technology. Besides that, we are reducing on the geometrics in that the roads have either vertical or horizontal curves. Hence, if we don’t expect the road to be of high mobility then we use standard access road approach. Consequently, we reduce on the earthworks, geometrics and land compensation thus reducing cost.

Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KERRA) is undertaking a road programme referred to as the Low Volume Seal Roads or stage construction to handle low traffic.  The state agency has identified 10,000km of roads to support primary growth at the county level. Already 4,000 km of roads were tendered for earlier this year. 

Parameter

Thika Road

Nairobi S/Bypass

Kisumu Bypass

KWS-Bomas

James Gichuru Junction Redhill

Outer Ring Road

Miritini-Kipevu Package 1(Dongo Kundu Bypass)

Ngong Road(National Library-Nakumatt Prestige)

Missing Link(Prestige Ngoong Rd- Langata)

Nairobi Western Bypass

Development Partner/Financier

 

AfDB

 

China

World

Bank

 

GoK

 

GoK

 

AfDB

 

JICA

 

JICA

 

GoK

 

China

Year contracted

2009

2011

2010

2012

2014

2014

2015

2015

2015

2016

Length of road

48

28.3

13.8

2.6

4.5

10

10.5

2.6

3.85

16.5

Length of service+ Slip Roads: 2-lanes(km)

70

28.5

1.1

0.6

0.3

13

2.3

0

0.25

30

Contract Price(KES billion)

34.5

17.199

7.3

2.67

3.012

9.2

11

1.3

2.1

17.356

Dollar Rate at Award

78

79

68

90

85

87

88

100

100

102.5

Contract Sum(USD million)

 

442.31

217.71

107.35

29.67

35.44

105.75

127.78

13.00

21.00

169.33

No of lanes(main road)

 

6

4

4

4

4

4

4

4

4

4

Total lane(kms)

 

428

170.2

57.4

11.6

18.6

66

47.4

10.4

15.9

126

Cost/lane-km(KES million/km

80.61

101.05

127.18

230.17

161.94

139.39

237.24

125.00

132.08

137.746

Cost/lane-km(USD million/km

1.033

1.279

1.870

2.557

1.905

1.602

2.696

1.250

1.321

1.344

Table 1. A comparison pricing of the different roads under KeNHA.             

Q: Do you have any road awarded or under construction resulting from the annuity financing mechanism, is the model viable?

A: Yes we have. The Cabinet approved 435km of annuity roads that KeNHA is procuring. Since then, we have been able to sign two contracts, Ngong-Kiserian-Isinya and Kajiado-Mashuru-Isala, which is about 91km. This contract has been awarded to Intex Construction. We’ve also been able to sign contracts of about 143km from Wajir-Samatan and Lamu to Mandera. This is being done under a joint venture of GVL Construction and Hass Consultants.

I wish to clarify that the annuity financing programme uses the Public- Private Partnership law that requires time for completion of the contract. To this end, contractors will need funds from financial organizations which take time to be processed.

Q: Why are the foreign contractors outdoing the local contractors, why do they win more tenders; what is their strength?

A: I think this is historical. This civil engineering sector is not much developed as such. In the past the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure used to do all the construction and provide its machinery by itself. This is because contractor development wasn’t available. This has however changed with the formation of state authorities that oversee roads development. Nevertheless, the sector hasn’t been able to raise the needed local contractors’ numbers or resources essential for high investment roads.

Q: Do these projects that we undertake develop the capacity of locals with the intention of someday replacing or challenging the dominance of the foreign contractors?

A: Yes. We have been able to train our local contractors on maintenance of roads through a Performance Based Contract. This means that we hire a contractor who maintains a certain road for two-three years. Thereafter, the Authority comes to inspect it and later pays the contractors for the job done. This ensures that issues of encroachment don’t arise as contractors are on the ground to supervise and maintain the roads. Moreover, the government follows the Procurement and Disposal Act when it comes to integrating local contractors with foreigners. It says that ‘foreign contractors must incorporate local contractors in projects’ to promote serious skills transfer.

Q: How do you ensure local content and skills transfer in projects under your authority are as per the laws and aspirations of Kenya?

A: The Authority trains local contractors through the Kenya Institute of Highways and Building Technology (KIBHT) through the State Department of Public Works. This is our main school for training our local contractors and consultants in the infrastructure sector. I urge all local contractors to take advantage of this and make sure they learn and get the discipline necessary to undertake their work successfully. In fact, when we think of a country without its own contractors, foreign exchange depreciates.

Q: You have tried introducing toll stations on some roads before without much success, what has been stopping you and do you still intend to introduce these toll stations in the future?

A: Yes. For now we have been able to carry out feasibility studies on Mombasa-Nairobi highway entirely, Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit highway, Thika Super highway and the Southern bypass that we have recently completed. The reason for introducing toll stations is because Kenyans need the roads like yesterday. If we are talking about the government using resources to construct a dual carriageway from Mombasa to Malaba, it might take time.

The toll stations intend to bring in private sector investment to do roads then the roads are later available for people to pay a small fee or fixed charge to maintain them. In the study, we also did a survey to find out if Kenyans are in support of this idea and we got an overwhelming support. Currently, there is a policy being developed and is awaiting Cabinet‘s approval. After that Kenyans will give their opinions on how they want the policy shaped.  Once implemented, it will save on cost and promote safety on our roads.

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