Contractors tarmacking three key roads covering 143 kilometres in Kwale County at a total cost of over Sh. 6.2billion have been told to speed up work or have their contacts terminated.
The County Commissioner (CC), Karuku Ngumo said the slow pace of completing the road projects separately launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President, Dr. William Ruto last year was unacceptable and concerned contractors risk being thrown out for failing to meet deadlines.
Ngumo was speaking in his office where he officially launched the newly formed County Development Implementation and Coordination Committee (CDICC) which he said has powers to recommend cancellation of tenders if contactors fail to deliver.
“The contractors have done very little on the ground in spite of government releasing the requisite advance payment for mobilization amounting to more than Sh.1.1billion,” he said as he decried a trend where contractors fail to complete work promptly hence staying on site beyond the contract period.
He added that the committee will do everything possible to ensure projects are completed on time as stipulated in the contract terms.
“One of the rationales of forming these committees is decision fast tracking to unlock stalled projects and we will do exactly that to ensure faster service delivery to local residents,” he said, in reference to the Presidential Executive order No. 1 of 2019 on Framework for the Coordination of National Government Development Programmes.
It also emerged that some of the contractors lacked capacity to handle the projects because they do not have enough equipment.
A Director at the Presidential Delivery Unit, Eliud Lelerai said stalling of projects portrays the government in bad light and will not be condoned.
Mr. Lelerai who is also the secretary to the CDICCs in Kwale, Mombasa and Taita-Taveta counties said there are only 40 months left to deliver on Jubilee government development programmes hence contractors must deliver on time.
“Contractors slowing the Jubilee government initiated projects will not be entertained because we are at a critical moment and they must comply with the terms of the contract and complete their work swiftly,” he added.
He told the committees to closely monitor all government projects to identify challenges to ensure prompt remedial action is taken.
The committee members said companies bidding for tenders should be thoroughly scrutinized and due diligence done before awarding them tenders to avoid cases of briefcase contractors.
Among the affected roads are Samburu-Kinango, Milalani-Kilulu, and Lunga Lunga-Shimoni and all except one, are being done by Chinese companies.
All the three roads are being upgraded to bitumen standard at a cost of Sh.3.1billion for the Lunga Lunga-Shimoni road, Samburu-Kinango (Sh.2billion), and Milalani-Kilulu (Sh.900, 223, 861).
A Deputy Director with Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KERRA), Timothy Kendagor said the contractor, Jiangxi Youse Construction, who was given the Samburu-Kinango road had only done 15kms of 50kms since work commenced two years ago.
The China Civil Engineering which is upgrading the Shimoni-Lunga Lunga road has only tarmacked 13kms out of 70kms, while Hasil Construction, a local company, has done only 6.9kms of the 23km-long Milalani-Kilulu road, according to Kendagor.
He said work on the Shimoni-Lunga Lunga road was moving slowly partly because of its proximity to the shores of the Indian Ocean which are laden with alluvial soil that is unsuitable for road construction.
“The contractor is facing a challenge of sourcing materials from as far as 30kms from the project site which is slowing down work,” he said.
Work had also been hindered by a standoff between the contractor and the county government over levies for accessing construction materials, he added.
“At some point the county government clamped the contractor’s trucks hence grounding operations but the dispute has since been resolved and work has resumed,” said Kengdagor.
Meanwhile, the government has already awarded contracts worth over Sh.338million for periodic maintenance work on five roads in the county, under the Kenya Highway Authority (KeNHA) and Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA).
The roads include Ukunda-Lunga-Lunga, Kombani-Kwale-Marere, Marere-Kinango-Lunga Lunga, Mwatate-Rukanga-Guranze-Lunga Lunga, and Kwale-Golini.
The tender worth Sh.7.6million for the Kwale-Golini road was given to a businesswoman living with disability under the government policy of offering access to procurement opportunities to the disadvantaged groups, according to an official from KURA, Ludovic Mwangemi.
By James Muchai