By PSCU/Christine Muchira
The Government’s infrastructure projects are on track and have huge impact on the country’s economic growth, Infrastructure and Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia has said.
The Cabinet Secretary singled out the Standard Gauge Raiway (SGR), saying the project which is 88 per cent complete has already contributed 2 per cent of growth to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
He said over 27,000 Kenyans have been employed under the project while towns a long the new railway line have benefitted from booming business.
“SGR will also help boost the efficiency of the Mombasa Port since it will ensure cargo is transported quicker than using road transport,” the Cabinet Secretary said.
He was speaking Monday during a televised State House Infrastructure Summit organised by the President’s Communications team, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, and the Presidential Delivery Unit.
CS Macharia said road infrastructure is also important to the country’s growth and the Government has stepped up investment in that sector.
“When this Government came to office, we realised that not enough had been done in terms of road infrastructure. In 2013, only about 14,000 kilometres of roads had been tarmacked out of a total stock of 160,000 kilometres,” the Cabinet Secretary observed.
To bridge the deficit, the Cabinet Secretary said the Government increased its investment in construction of rural roads, urban roads and the highways.
“We had 7600km of tarmacked highways and we are putting up an additional 2500km,” said CS Macharia adding that “We said if we take these three subset of our roads then we will have actually covered the entire country. And this will touch the lives of the 42 million Kenyans.”
He disclosed that following the launch of the first batch of 4000 kilometre low-volume road program by President Uhuru Kenyatta early this year, construction of about 1600 kilometre is already underway.
“If you go to the countryside, you will see that these roads have actually started in terms of construction,” the Cabinet Secretary said.
He said another 3000 kilometres is also under procurement, bringing the total of rural roads that will be under construction by the end of the year to 7000 kilometres.
“This will go a long way in meeting the Jubilee Manifesto on the promised 10,000 kilometres of road,” the Cabinet Secretary said.
He added: “On rural roads, the impact in terms of agriculture is massive. Most of our people live in the rural areas and this project, which could be dubbed the ‘mashinani’ project is reaching them where they are.”
On highways, Mr Macharia said the Government has already done 1,400 kilometres.
The Cabinet Secretary said the Government is also focused on developing urban roads to decongest cities and major towns.
“For example, we are decongesting the city of Nairobi by the link roads such as the Outerring road which is 30 per cent complete, and the by-passes,” Mr Machacria said.
With regard to security, Mr. Macharia said the Isiolo – moyale highway has massive impact as it has opened up an area that was previously viewed as “marginalised”.
“That is not a project that is under plan but about to be commissioned in the next one month, demonstrating that what we say indeed has been put into action,” Mr Macharia said.
He said the road will also promote trade with Ethiopia and boost regional integration.
“This road has opened up our frontier with Ethiopia. Ethiopia has a population of over 100 million people. Certainly, we will now link that very big population to our side and facilitate trade and investment across the border,” the Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary said.
The Cabinet Secretary said the Government’s focus is also trained on development of the Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor, which has already won awards for being one of the most promising transport projects in the continent.
He said the LAPSSET Corridor has created jobs and opened new business and livelihood opportunities to over 1 million people in Lamu, Isiolo, Marsabit, Meru, Laikipia and Turkana Counties where projects related to ports, pipeline and roads are being undertaken.
The CS also talked on the improvement of the country’s airports, citing the massive development of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport that has boosted Nairobi status as an air transport hub.