Res­i­dents ac­cuse Chi­nese con­trac­tor of al­ter­ing ma­jor road de­sign

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - NATIONAL NEWS - BY KIPCHUMBA SOME

Res­i­dents of a vil­lage in On­gata Ron­gai, Ka­ji­ado County, have ac­cused the Chi­nese con­trac­tor of Phase 2A of the Stan­dard Gauge Rail­way (SGR) of il­le­gally al­ter­ing the de­signs of a ma­jor road in the area.

In a let­ter dated Jan­uary 7, 2019, the Oloosirkon Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion (ORA) pe­ti­tions the manag­ing di­rec­tor of the Kenya Rail­ways Cor­po­ra­tion “to ur­gently in­ter­vene and stop the in­ten­tions of the SGR con­trac­tor to per­ma­nently block and al­ter the de­sign and na­ture of the On­gata Ron­gai-kiten­gela Road (the Greater South­ern by­pass).”

The as­so­ci­a­tion claims that the orig­i­nal de­sign of the SGR route had pro­vided for the con­struc­tion of an over­head bridge (at point DK12-035) — which is near Tuala trad­ing cen­tre — for the SGR, across the road.

“In­stead of fol­low­ing this im­por­tant pro­vi­sion, the con­trac­tor has de­cided, with­out any con­sul­ta­tion with the com­mu­nity to build a per­ma­nent 12-me­tre high con­crete em­bank­ment across the road, thereby com­pletely block­ing and al­ter­ing the na­ture of the road,” said ORA in a let­ter signed by their chair­man Mr Awori Achoki and Mr Philip Ku­lan­gash who signed on be­half of the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

To al­ter the de­sign of the road, ORA claims in their pe­ti­tion that the con­trac­tor cre­ated a sharp right an­gle di­ver­sion one kilo­me­tre from Tuala town into two five me­tre-wide tun­nels.

“The road emerges from the tun­nel into an­other sharp right an­gle turn to the left — 10 me­tres from the tun­nel. The haz­ard posed by these reck­less de­sign pro­vi­sions is unimag­in­able,” the let­ter says.

They fur­ther com­plained that the SGR con­trac­tor — China Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Con­struc­tion Com­pany (CCCC) — had made sig­nif­i­cant mod­i­fi­ca­tions in to the na­ture of the road, in­clud­ing re­duc­ing the width from the orig­i­nal 25 me­tres to 10 me­tres.

“Ve­hi­cles en­ter­ing the tun­nel from ei­ther di­rec­tion are not vis­i­ble to the driver un­til one is in­side the tun­nel. The sharp an­gle turn does not al­low for grad­ual safe ma­noeu­vring by large ve­hi­cles such as lor­ries and buses into the tun­nel,” the let­ter claims.

The road is the only ma­jor link be­tween On­gata Ron­gai and Kiten­gela towns and is a key com­po­nent of the Nairobi metropoli­tan Trans­port Au­thor­ity’s plan to de­con­gest Nairobi city. The min­istry of Trans­port and In­fra­struc­ture ten­dered for the tar­ma­ck­ing of the road in 2017.

The res­i­dents are now de­mand­ing that the SGR con­trac­tor stops work at the af­fected sec­tions un­til their con­cerns are ad­dressed as well as other emerg­ing is­sues of pub­lic in­ter­est.

“We de­mand to know why a ma­jor pub­lic road, has been di­verted into pri­vate land at a great cost to the pub­lic while ad­e­quate land for its ex­pan­sion and de­vel­op­ment had been re­served by the gov­ern­ment,” the ORA let­ter says.

Two-day ef­forts to get com­ment from the Kenya Rail­ways Cor­po­ra­tion Act­ing Manag­ing Di­rec­tor Philip Mainga were not suc­cess­ful as he did not an­swer our calls or an­swer the text mes­sages we sent to his mo­bile phone.

Mr Luka Kimeli, the act­ing di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the Kenya Ru­ral Roads Au­thor­ity, (KERRA) said, in a text mes­sage, “I will need to con­firm whether the road is a county road or na­tional gov­ern­ment road be­fore pro­vid­ing a re­sponse,”.

The con­cerns raised by the res­i­dents of Oloosirkon, un­less han­dled ex­pe­di­tiously, could fur­ther de­lay the com­ple­tion of Phase 2A of the SGR project which runs from Nairobi to Naivasha.

In a press state­ment sent to news­rooms on Fri­day, Mr Mainga said that con­struc­tion work on the 120-kilo­me­tre route is 88 per cent com­plete and is sched­uled to be com­pleted by May 30, 2019 and will be of­fi­cially launched the fol­low­ing day.

The project ex­pe­ri­enced de­lays over ac­qui­si­tion of land. To date a to­tal of Sh17.6 bil­lion has been used to com­pen­sate land own­ers af­fected by the project.

“I want to as­sure Kenyans that they will be­gin en­joy­ing our train ser­vices, both pas­sen­ger and freight from Mom­basa to Mai Mahiu from June 1, 2019,” said Mr Mainga.

Work on the Nairobi-naivasha sec­tion of the SGR be­gan in Jan­uary 2017 at a cost of Sh150 bil­lion. The first phase from Mom­basa to Nairobi was com­pleted in June 2017 at a cost of Sh327 bil­lion. Ma­jor­ity of the fund­ing for the project has come from the Exim Bank of China. Phase 2B of the project from Naivasha to Kisumu will cost Sh350 bil­lion, the bulk of which is ex­pected to be fi­nanced through loans from the same lender.

An earth mover clears land for the Stan­dard Gauge Rail­way at Oloosirkon ward in Ka­ji­ado East con­stituency. Oloosirkon res­i­dents have ac­cused the Chi­nese con­trac­tor of al­ter­ing the de­signs of a ma­jor road in the area.

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