The Star

February 28, 2012

The Kenya National Highways Authority will spend Sh9 billion for routine maintenance of major roads this financial year. Of this, 80 per cent of the contracts have already been awarded, in a bid to ensure that Kenya’s highways are maintained to international standards, said KeNHA director general Meshack Kidenda. “We have distributed the road maintenance budget to all parts of the country. We will no longer tolerate shoddy road works,” Kidenda said in a statement.

At the same time, Kidenda said the authority has complied with all procurement guidelines as set out by the Public Procurement and Oversight Authority. “Apart from the PPOA, we are under constant audit from the ADB (Africa Development Bank), the World Bank and the European Union. We are happy to report that we are in full compliance to these guidelines,” he said.

The Director General said KeNHA has awarded more than 1,500 major tenders since inception, and none has been overturned by PPOA over procedural issues. “Only four contractors have appealed against tender awards from this authority. And in the four cases, we have gone ahead to win the appeals, a move that vindicates our tender committees,” said Kidenda.

He said KeNHA is benchmarking itself with its counterparts in the developed world, adding that the authority is on the path to becoming a centre of excellence in public procurement. “We want to perfect the system through the introduction of best procurement practices. We are constantly in touch with PPOA to ensure that this milestone is achieved in a year’s time,” he said. On delays in paying contractor certificates, Kidenda said road contractors are paid within 48 hours once the money has been released from the Treasury and Kenya Roads Board.

However, he said only certificates that are certified by auditors and project engineers are paid within that period. “We have devised a check-back system to ensure that all the procurement processes are transparent. At no time do we compromise on this,” he said. However, Kidenda said there is need to continually review the PPOA Act, in line with rising inflation trends and other developments in the country. He said the tender committee threshold of Sh500,000 was on the lower side, especially for road contractors.

Meanwhile, KeNHA has appealed to the public to stop vandalising road signs and bridges, adding that the move is a major setback to road safety. Kidenda said vandalism of road signs has increased in the last three months and there is need to stop the vice. A case in point is on Mombasa Road, near General Motors, where vandals have looted the safety grills, leaving motorists exposed.