Contractor abandons Sh9b road project in dispute over payment

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A section of the Kisii-Isebania road is under construction by the China Henan International Corporation Group. [Eric Abuga, Standard]

The contractor building the Kisii-Isebania road abandoned the project for an outstanding debt of 1.5 billion shillings.

The China Henan International Corporation group won the contract to build the 86-kilometer road from the national government at a cost of 8.6 billion shillings.

The contractor said he would not resume work until he was paid in full, according to project engineer James Mageto.

The Chinese company suspended work two months ago, putting its 550 workers out of work.

Vice President Rigathi Gachagua, in an interview with KTN on Sunday, said the government had more than 500 billion shillings in pending bills.

“We met with Treasury officials in an effort to secure resources to offset the bills. We have to pay those bills. The money will be paid to contractors to ensure that we complete all stalled projects,” the DP said.

Mageto said the project is nearly complete, currently about 85% complete.

“We were hoping to complete all major work on this project by December. We have already lost a lot of time because of the money owed to the contractor. The Chinese contractor has been away and says he will only come back after paying his money,” the engineer said.

With heavy rains battering the area, motorists along the Kisii-Migori road have complained of wasted time as the road has become nearly impassable. It has deep trenches and potholes. It is muddy posing a hazard to motorists, their passengers are as well as pedestrians.

Gusii Matatu Owners Association President George Nyariki said the current state of the road means they are spending a lot of money to maintain their vehicles.

“We are spending a lot of money on repairs because of the poor condition of a section of the road that goes to Kisii town,” Nyariki said.

He added: “All we want is for the project to be completed. This road is important for the residents of this region. Being in its current state means local traders are also suffering.

Most of the companies have reported a sharp drop in the number of customers since the start of the excavation work and the actual construction of the road.

The existing road was built in 1969.

The construction period was originally scheduled between 2016 and 2019. The deadline was later extended to 2021 due to the 2017 general election, before being extended again.

The project was part of the 18 billion shillings Sirari Corridor Accessibility Road Project in Nyanza, which aims to unlock agricultural, fisheries and agro-industrial industrial potential to industrialize the wider Lake Victoria basin.

The project is co-financed by the World Bank Group (81.4%), the Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund 4% and the Government of Kenya.

The road works are being undertaken by the Third Engineering Bureau of China City Construction Company and the China Henan International Cooperation Group.

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