Businessmen protest as Upper Hill roads project is delayed

Work in progress in Upper Hill.
Work in progress in Upper Hill. PHOTO/MATTAN CONTRACTORS
For more than 32 months, a 5.4km stretch of road in Nairobi’s Upper Hill area has been dusty and disorderly as construction crew rush to beat a deadline that has been pushed forward at least four times.

The Sh2 billion project, which covers Upper Hill, Elgon, Bunyala, Kilimanjaro and Hospital roads, has not been completed since May 2012 – causing lengthy traffic jams that at times border on the absurd.

State officials had last year told journalists that the project would be completed by November 2014, after missed deadlines of end of May, July 1 and August 27, but that did not happen.

Infrastructure Principal Secretary John Mosonik has, however, absolved the contractor of blame, attributing the delay to challenges associated with the relocation of sewerage, water and electricity to pave the way for the roads.

“We are putting a lot of pressure on the contractor [Mattan Contractors] to deliver by March 31,” he said at a recent press briefing in Nairobi.

Mr Mosonik had earlier attributed the time lag to delays in the release of the second batch of the payment to allow smooth continuation of the project.

The project that was in 2012 awarded to Mattan Contractors, a local firm, stalled mid-2013 reportedly due to insufficient funding from the government, prompting the contract to be rescheduled from May last year to July 1 and later August 27.

The government has since paid the contractor in full for the completion of the project, said Mr Mosonik without disclosing whether there were cost overruns due to the delays.

The 5.4km stretch is the first phase of a planned 18km road network in Upper Hill.

Businesses already hit by the slow pace of the roads upgrade have called the delay “farcical”.

One businessman says he has already lost “tens of millions” in trade due to the poor state of the roads.

He said: “I’m not surprised at the delay, given how we’ve seen work progressing, but I’m very disappointed because they assured us it would be completed by August 2014.”

The Upper Hill District Association has raised concerns over the delays saying the roads have been rendered near impassable, especially on rainy days.

The lobby says its members have been shouldering extra costs in man-hours wasted due to traffic jams on the narrow, dusty roads.

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