Kibaki on Saturday directed the various roads authorities in the country to conduct regular and consistent road maintenance to retain high standards.
Speaking during the official opening of the Miritini-Maji ya Chumvi road, President Kibaki asserted that the nation had entrusted its road network to the Kenya National Highways Authority, Kenya Rural Roads Authority and the Kenya Urban Roads Authority.
The President said, “I call upon these authorities to diligently, efficiently, and consistently carry out road maintenance to the highest standards and on time, bearing in mind that a stitch in time saves nine.”
The Head of State further outlined other measures to be implemented with the intention of extending the lifespan of local roads as well as ensure that road users draw maximum benefits from the highways.
President Kibaki called upon Kenyans to value the importance of protecting roads and ensuring they are safe at all times adding the Government had outlined various measures to achieve these objectives.
“To achieve this goal, a number of measures will be put in place. These include; enforcement of established maximum axle road rules, routine, periodic and consistent road maintenance; ensuring proper road drainage at all times; full compliance with road safety regulations, and observance of simple rules of courtesy on our roads,” reaffirmed the President.
He stated that the Government had continued to invest heavily in the road sector to promote fast and efficient transportation of both goods and people to help them realise full economic potential.
He asserted, “The Government intends to press on with greater urgency and with sustained resource allocations so that the remaining roads in poor condition are attended to as quickly as possible. Only by doing this will we be able to transport goods and people efficiently to access the market in the region and globally as the sure way of realising our great economic potential.”
The President assured Kenyans that despite the huge task ahead, the Government had launched numerous road intervention projects to make every corner of the country easily accessible for successful business and agriculture.
“While we have made tangible progress in road rehabilitation and construction, we also acknowledge that there is still a long way to go,” said the President.
The Head of State noted that the Government had adopted the Roads 2000 Strategy which utilises labour based methods in roads building and maintenance which provides gainful employment for the many unemployed youth in the country.
“This strategy allows us to provide gainful employment for our young and vibrant labour force. The Roads 2000 approach is also providing technical support for the roads component of the recently launched Kazi kwa Vijana initiative.”
Thanking the development partners for their invaluable support to the Government in its endeavours to rehabilitate the road network, President Kibaki noted that due to increased traffic congestion the Government was focusing on expanding carriageway capacity on highly trafficked roads.
Said he, “The program to expand the capacity of highly trafficked rural and urban roads is still in its early stages and will be costly to implement. I therefore appeal to Kenyans and our Development Partners to continue providing the much needed support as we embark on our decongestion programme.”
The President who also announced that Government would continue to allocate massive resources for roads rehabilitation thanked the Nordic Development Fund and the World Bank for extending the much needed financial and material support for the rehabilitation of the roads sub-sector.
Said the President, “Allow me to express special gratitude and appreciation to the Nordic Development Fund, whose member countries are Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. The Nordic Development Fund financed about two thirds of the ultra-modern new highway that you see before us today. Allow me also to express special gratitude and appreciation to the World Bank under whose mantle the Nordic contribution was administered.”
The newly launched 35-kilometre stretch of road that comprises a 5-kilometre section upgraded to dual carriageway standards was completed at a cost of Sh2.4 billion and greatly complemented efforts geared towards rehabilitation of the Northern Corridor Road between Mombasa and Malaba town at the Kenya/Uganda border.
President Kibaki said “The completion of this road is an important step in the rehabilitation of the crucial Northern Corridor.”
He therefore called on the local residents to intensify farming activities in the area which will not only enable them meet their domestic needs but also sell the extra produce to other parts of the country and in the EAC region.
President Kibaki noted that with the expansion of the East Africa Community membership which includes Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, the improvement on the road infrastructure is intended to ease trade and movement of people within the region and beyond.
The Head of State also urged Kenyans to learn extra languages from the commonly used ones saying the skills would help them communicate effectively and take advantage of emerging business and investment opportunities regionally and globally.
Speaking during the function the Minister for Roads Franklin Bett said the ministry is currently formulating a new policy of which when implemented owners of overloading trucks will individually be held accountable.
He noted that the major contributor to roads damage is overloading of trucks and the Government has taken various measures to tackle the problem.
Other speakers included the area MP Kazungu Kambi, the permanent secretary in the ministry of Roads Engineer Michael Kamau, Chairperson of the newly launched Kenya National Highway Authority Hannah Muriithi.
Also present were Ministers Najib Balala, Dalmas Otieno, Prof. George Saitoti, Assistant ministers Lee Kinyanjui, Orwa Ojode, Simeon Lesrima, Gonzi Rai among senior Government officials.