Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Publicize ALL Public Works Contracts

Every time I drive around and see a newly repaired road that has all but disintegrated at the first sign of precipitation, I find myself wondering what the design criteria for the road was, who was in charge of inspecting the construction works to ensure the road is built/repaired to the required standard, what was paid for the road building/repair etc.

I personally think that road building is the biggest scam in Kenya and has been for some time. I find the standard of road building poor. Roads often fall apart within one or two years. The standard of road repair is also abyssmal meaning that once the road gets potholes after its one year of service, the repairs that are done leave a terribly rutted and uneven surface. Roads are supposed to be smooth. How many of our roads fit that description?

I think that one measure that could be instituted to increase accountability with roads (and other public works projects) is to publicize the roads building and maintenance contracts. By publicize, I don't mean have a board hidden behind a tree with microscopic writing on it placed at some random location miles from where the actual work is to take place, I mean have full details of the contracts either put out in the press or better yet on the Ministries websites. The following could be included:

  • Cost of the project
  • Full Design Criteria
  • Time to Completion
  • Company undertaking Project
  • Reasons for company being awarded tender
  • Inspection methodology
  • Name of official incharge of inspection for the particular project
  • Penalties for failure to meet deadlines both for contactor as well as GoK
  • etc etc

For example, we the public should be made aware that Thika Road is being built by Con Struct Ltd at a cost of 2 billion over a timespan of 2 years with a handover date of xx/xx/20xx. We should be made aware that the contract includes building drainage and culverts and a layer of tarmac at least 5 inches thick with the road expected to have a lifespan of at least 20 years and that I.N Spector is in charge of inspecting the project to ensure that its being built to the correct spec, will conduct monthly inspections and for every month behind schedule the project is the contractor loses 10 million..etc etc....if the public is aware what our tax shillings are being used for, it would further incentivize GoK and contractors to ensure we get value for money. 

I think that taking this approach may help towards ensuring that we finally start getting value for our tax money where public works projects are concerned.

Edit: The following two key points from Bankelele would also go some great way to adding to accountability:
- publish the names of all company directors' that are given government contracts. If a company does not perform it gets blacklisted, along with its directors
- reverse the Ndegwa commission rules and re-instate ban civil servants from engaging in private business


  1. Plus
    - publish the names of all company directors' that are given government contracts. If a company does not perform it gets blacklisted, along with its directors
    - reverse the Ndegwa commission rules and re-instate ban civil servants from engaging in private business

  2. Bankelele:

    Very key points. I added them to the main post as an edit.

  3. I think there should be a post-implementation review which allows GoK to pay like a 1/3 of the contract if the road doesn't develop cracks and potholes within say 18months.
    2ndly, no one contractor should be given more than 2 jobs at a time. Kirinyaga (esp after the goat-eating in 2003) was running 4/5 projects in Central alone. And all sub-standard.

  4. MainaT,

    I agree about need for post implementation reviews.

    My idea had been to have the company responsible for repairing any damage that occurs within a pre-agreed period of time..say 5 years. That way when Kirinyaga or Nyoro build a road that falls apart after 9 months, they are forced to repair the road to the original standard that it should have been built (not this patch-up nonsense that is taken as road repairs in Kneya...proper resurface jobs)

    That in association with publicizing directors and black listing companies/directors who do not meet their obligations should have the effect of ensuring a good job is done to begin with.

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