Road agencies owe Kenyan contractors Sh22bn for works

Work in progress in Upper Hill.
Road works in progress in Upper Hill. PHOTO/MATTAN CONTRACTORS
Road contractors said the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA), Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) and Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KERRA) owed them Sh22 billion for construction works.

The Roads and Civil Engineering Contractors Association (Raceca) on Thursday told the Parliamentary Committee on Roads and Housing that the road agencies had failed to avail funds for construction of various roads in the country, thereby crippling their operations.

Raceca said KeNHA owed them Sh14 billion while KURA and KERRA owed them Sh8 billion. Interestingly, the total budgetary allocation for KeNHA this year is Sh8 billion against a debt of Sh14 billion.

According to Raceca chairman Kishan Singh Gehlot, more than 60 road projects in Kenya had stalled due to lack of funds, leading to loss of jobs for about 5,000 construction workers.

“We cannot access any money to continue with works on already existing road projects since the government has not been able to pay any of our members,” Gehlot said.

The committee said it would summon Treasury secretary Henry Rotich and his Transport and Infrastructure counterpart Michael Kamau to comment on the issues raised by the contractors.

Local contractors have in the past claimed they had been locked out of lucrative contracts with foreign companies – especially Chinese – being awarded over 75 per cent of government jobs.

The contractors in February urged the National Construction Authority (NCA) to introduce an affirmative rule that would see them get a ‘significant’ share of Government tenders awarded to foreign companies.

(READ: Contractors demand lion’s share of Government tenders)

In April Raceca moved to court seeking to have Chinese and other foreign contractors barred from handling government-funded road projects.

(READ: Kenyan contractors fight off Chinese builders in court)

The Association accused the government of setting a Sh500 million ceiling for tenders to be awarded exclusively to local contractors yet they had the capacity to handle projects exceeding Sh5 billion.