The board and management of the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) is on the spot over the controversial Sh11.7billion Outering Road improvement contract which surpasses the actual road construction cost by Sh3.2billion, The Informer Media Group has established.
The 13 kilometers stretch was constructed at an estimated cost of Sh8.5billion but records at KURA shows that the authority has since awarded an ongoing improvement works contract to Stecol Corporation at cost of Sh11,743,792,352.58.
When contacted for comment, KURA Director General Engineer Silas Kinoti acknowledge receipt of the queries but referred us to KURA Communications Officer John Cheboi who said Stecol Corporation was awarded the contract procedurally.
However, since the contract is captured in KURA records as an ongoing project, Cheboi neither divulged further details the actual improvement works Stecol Corporation, when the tendering process was undertaken and if it was through competitive bidding or restricted tendering process.
The Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act provides instances when restricted tendering can be used if the following conditions are satisfied; competition for contract, because of the complex or specialized nature of goods, works or services is limited to prequalified contractors; the time and cost required to examine and evaluate a large number of tenderers.
The 13 kilometre Outering Road was dualled by Chinese firm Sino Hydro Tianjin Engineering Limited at a cost of Sh8.5 billion and launched in 2015.
Since its launch in 2015, the improvement works undertaken thereafter include the construction of 11 footbridges due to rampant accidents after the road was ranked among the most dangerous roads in the world and some of which are still incomplete to date at a cost of Sh880million.
In 2021, KURA closed the Taj Mall/Pipeline section to install footbridge trusses. In June 2018, the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) ranked this road as the most dangerous in Nairobi.
And in August 2019, it was second only to Mombasa Road in terms of reported fatalities.
Having been ranked as one of the most dangerous roads and killer route in the world in May this year during a United Nations (UN) global road safety meeting held in New York, a delve into the murky run-is along Outering Road by The Informer Media Group has unearthed predisposing factors that could be exposing road users to harm’s way.
Ranging from inadequate signages, outcry over significant change of road designs, incomplete and poorly lit foot bridges have been cited as key crime predisposing factors to the road users. Scores have been killed and others maimed along the road and on the on footbridges some abandoned without installation of proper lighting and roofing have now turned into crime hotspots especially at dawn and after dusk.
Speaking in New York in May last year, the World Resources Institute (WRI) acting Global Urban Mobility Director Claudia Adriazola-Steil said that Outering Road has claimed many lives majority of them being pedestrians. Claudia added that Outering Road, is, however, not the only example of dangerous roads in the world.
“But there was an investment in a highway, an urban highway named Outering in Nairobi. In the first nine months of 2021 it had been the most dangerous road in the city with many fatalities. Ninety per cent of them were pedestrians.” Claudia said during the meeting.
A spot check by us revealed that out of the eleven footbridges constructed along the route, three are incomplete at Allsops, Pipeline and Kariobangi near ‘Airforce’ area despite the contractors having been issued with certificates of completion and payments settled.
However, in a sharp contradiction, KURA Director General Engineer Silas Kinoti Kinoti and KURA Communications Officer John Cheboi said all the bridges are complete.
Area residents who spoke to us and people using the Outering Road cited the lack of lights on the footbridges as the main cause of crime, accidents, and killings in several bridges.
“The lights were well when the road was constructed but after some time, the lights stopped functioning. This has increased the number of killings and robberies reported every week. We ask KURA and also the police bosses to see how they can help us.” David Odour noted.
Also, the lack of signage at the Mutindwa area along the road was said as the main cause of accidents as an exit around the area is not indicated though other residents said the bridges were placed far from the bus stages which makes most of the people risk crossing the road hence the accidents frequently witnessed.
“The bridges helped a lot in accident reduction but they are far from the stage which is why you will see many people avoiding to use them. Also, there is no signage showing an exit at some point and this has caused a lot of accidents here at Mutindwa.” A driver, James Ndolo explained.
He added that the lights in the footbridges should be repaired and restored for the pedestrians who use it at night.
So far, KURA has advertised 309 contracts for routine maintenance of the roads many of whom are Projects Based Contracts (PBC) and will run for two concurrent years at the cost of Sh8billion.
Maintenance of Nairobi county roads under KURA alone are expected to cost Sh1.9billion.
This will cover major roads including Outer Ring Road, Northern and Eastern bypass, Waiyaki way-RedHill Link, Langata Road, and Ngong Road among many other roads.
Speaking to us on phone, the Director General KURA Silas Kinoti said they are determined to ensure the roads are safe, especially with the ongoing rains.
“We want the contractors to hit the ground running and to maintain the roads while they are in good shape. The last contracts ended last month and the new contracts will last for the still in next two years.
KURA is determined to ensure urban road network is improved as they are highly motorized at all times.” Kinoti said. Kinoti through Cheboi said the Outering road project was completed in 2019, and that they have been contracting companies for routine maintenance as required.
He stated that the necessary procedures as stipulated by the law were followed during the bidding process though he did not reveal the new company that will be maintaining the road.
Further, he revealed that the maintenance is only done through a Project-based contract as it is only maintenance that is required after the completion of the road.
“The bidding has been done according to the set procedures.
It was advertised in July 2023 and we are about to sign the contract after the evaluation was done. We are set to announce the next contractor for the maintenance of the road for one or two years through the Project Based Contract (PBC).” He added.
“The maintenance includes cleaning the trenches and fixing here and there.” He said.
Kinoti said a few hitches had hindered the full completion of the bridges due to issues of space which was later done.
The Outering Road has eleven footbridges located at the Nairobi River, Pipeline, Fedha, and Ngong River, Two on Mutindwa, One in Kariobangi South, Kwa Michael, Baba Dogo, and the Ruaraka two-one Bridge.
“All the construction of the footbridges was completely done and what normally goes on is routine maintenance.” Cheboi said.
In 2021, former Embakasi West Member of Parliament (MP) George Theuri urged the government to erect barricades along Outer Ring Road in Nairobi, so as to curb the rising cases of accidents and deaths.
He attributed increasing deaths of pedestrians who attempt to cross the busy dual carriage highway instead of using footbridges are on the rise.
He raised concerns over a surge in cases of accidents along the road with the stretch between former Taj Mall and Allsops on Thika road, adding that at least four people lose their lives every month.
“Could the Ministry (of Transport) consider putting barricades between the two locations so as to forestall recurrence of multiple accidents which are being witnessed almost on a daily basis? We receive weekly reports of pedestrian accidents at my office by residents with most of them being as a result of failure to use the footbridges that have been provided for.” Theuri noted.
Previously, KURA has been faulted for failing to ensure the busy road is well maintained.