The government has urged contractors tarmacking the Sh1.2 billion Matuu-Ekalakala-Kanguku road to work around the clock to ensure a timely completion of the road.
Speaking during a County Development, Implementation and Coordination Committee (CDICC) tour of the road, Machakos County Commissioner John Ondego called on the main contractor, Kitho Civil and Engineering Company Limited to ensure the completion of the road by April next year.
Mr. Ondego said that the 40-km road whose construction was launched on 24 February 2017 ought to be completed to avoid any further delays so that it can be opened to the residents who have suffered for a long time.
“The residents of Matuu, Masinga and its environs have suffered for a long time now and I urge the Contractor of this road to fast track its completion so that the area can be opened up for development,” he said.
He said that contractors have to adhere to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive that all ongoing government projects be effectively completed and launched ahead of the general elections slated for next year August 9.
The County Commissioner urged the contractors to consult and work hand in hand with all stakeholders and report any challenges they may be experiencing where he promised the national government’s support in ensuring that the project is a success.
On her part, an Assistant Director at the Presidential Delivery Unit (PDU), Ms. Georgina Njoroge issued a stern warning to the contractors to pull up their socks and let the government see value for its money.
She decried the slow progress of the road since the CDICC team last visited the site two months ago adding that the team will be forced to make prompt and unexpected visits to evaluate to progress of the road.
Njoroge further called on the contractors to immediately draft a work plan of how they are going to execute the completion of the road and forward it to her office.
In her response, Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) Eng. Esther Mwangi who is supervising the project said that her office was committed to fast tracking the road’s speedy completion.
Eng. Mwangi told the committee that the physical progress of the road was at 24 per cent completion and the main Contractor had sub-contracted three other contractors namely Daima Construction limited, Uaso Ngiro Contractors and Zifel Construction limited who were working on a total of 12 km road stretch each.
She said that Daima Construction limited, which had demobilized in April 2, this year citing delayed disbursement of applied loan facility and vandalization of some equipment at site had resumed work at the Ekalakala-Kanguku section and had completed base layer for the first 4km.
Eng Mwangi said that Uaso Ngiro limited had managed to partially mobilize and commence works on March 8 and was working on base section and had already processed a base layer of 1.5 Kilometers at the Kithulani junction while Zifel Construction Company resumed work in mid-August this year.
On October 10, 2019, Eng. Mwangi and contractors, Zebedeo Opore, Simon Kaingo and Richard Ombati were whisked away by Machakos Police led by the County Commander, John Karanja from the project’s site offices where they were meeting with the Machakos CDICC Committee.
The quartet was taken to Matuu police station to record a statement on the circumstances under which the main contractor, Kitho Civil and Engineering started and abandoned works on the road, before engaging the other two sub-contractors, namely M/s. Zedjay investments Limited and Tekwara Services Limited.
Before their arrest, Mr. Kaingo the main contractor had a difficult time trying to explain to the committee how he landed the expensive tender despite lacking capacity to accomplish the project.
Kaingo could neither explain why the tarmacking of the road, which was started on July 21, 2017, was abandoned soon after, yet he had received over Sh100 million in advance payment from the government.
The committee which was formed through a Presidential Executive order was chaired by the then Machakos County Commissioner (CC), Esther Maina. Its secretary, Larry Mulomi, an assistant Director PDU.
An inspection tour of the project by the Committee, which was accompanied by two senior directors from PDU headquarters, Francis Ngatia in-charge of Eastern and Coast regions and his Rift Valley and Northern Kenya regional counterpart, Truphosa Awuor, revealed the shoddy work, which has been undertaken on the road.
According to Eng. Mwangi, the two sub-contractors started work on July 3, 2019 but due to financial challenges, the main contractor M/s. Kitho Civil and Engineering Company Limited requested to sub-contract some sections of the works to M/s. Zedjay investments limited and M/s. Tekwara Services limited who were approved on May 28, 2019.
Eng. Mwangi on her part had earlier told the committee that she had done all that was required of her, including updating her superiors on the reality on the ground but was instructed by the committee to be monitoring the daily progress of the works and report any delays.
She had also explained to the members the rigors of having the contract terminated; pointing out that the contractors could go to court and complicate the completion of the project further, among other claims.
However, the Engineer was unable to explain why the vital project tender was awarded to a financially incapacitated bidder who was working without a programme of works.
The committee directed the contractors to come up with a programme that guides the execution of tasks within two weeks or face dire consequences including the possibility of having their contract terminated.
Speaking after the arrest, Ms. Maina warned contractors and civil servants supervising their projects that the government will not tolerate any laxity or ineptitude on their part.