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Why Enterprise Road remains an eyesore : The Standard

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A mix of inadequate funds and doubtful contractor capability has left enterprises in Industrial Area in a messy situation for close to a decade. This has resulted in huge losses for many firms operating in Kenya’s largest manufacturing hub.
Enterprise Road, whose refurbishment contract was awarded in 2013, was expected to ease traffic flow in the hub but now sticks out like a sore thumb – as a major source of traffic snarl-ups.
Other than losses that it has earned manufacturers, the road can partly be blamed on a slowdown in investments by other firms that have cited poor infrastructure in Industrial Area.

SEE ALSO :A case of new road with no bus stops

This, among other reasons, has seen companies opt to set up in other areas, denying them synergies that would accrue to players operating from a common hub.
The 6.1-kilometre Enterprise Road stretch is the most critical artery for Nairobi’s Industrial Area. It stretches from the junction shared with Bunyala Road and Commercial Street – to the General Motors Junction where it intersects with Mombasa Road.
It cuts through other major roads servicing the area, such as Likoni and Lusaka roads, while feeding into smaller streets, some leading directly to manufacturer’s premises.
The intersection with Likoni Road is perhaps the most painful sight. The contractor, Nigerian firm Reynolds Construction Company (RCC), is putting up an overpass at the junction but has moved at a slow pace, opting to put up in small amounts of work every few months.
RCC was awarded the contract to repair segments of Enterprise Road in 2013 as part of a European Union-funded construction of 16km Eastern Missing Link Roads. It was expected to finish the job within a year.

SEE ALSO :Ngong Road 12-day improvement works to cause traffic

Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA), under whose purview the project falls, said the delay has been due to ‘misunderstandings’ with the contractor.
However, a source at the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure said inadequate budgetary allocation by the Government as well as the suspect capability of the contractor are to blame for the delays. “There were some contractual issues that arose from the project but we have already renegotiated and we are getting a way out of this. We have agreed on the way forward,” he said.
“The contractor has agreed to finish the work. It is the same project with Ring Road Parklands, so they have committed to finishing the Ring Road section first and will soon move to Industrial Area. In the meantime, they are working on improving sections that were bad so that traffic can flow on the Likoni-Enterprise Road section.”
Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Spokesperson John Cheboi declined to divulge more about the issues contested by the contractor, only adding that RCC had at some point demanded that Government makes payments before it proceeded. “There were some disagreements. We have been pushing the contractor but he had demanded we pay some money. We have already paid what they have been asking,” he said. “As soon as Westlands is done, he should be moving the machines there. In another six months, we will be having something better.”
Our source at the Ministry said the ministry noted both Kura and RCC have been at fault.

SEE ALSO :State to probe delay of Sh448m town bypass project

While the agency had not always made funds available to the contractor, the company also has on numerous occasions asked for an extension of time for the delivery of the project.
The Government has even penalised the company for the delays, which RCC has contested arguing that it was not given access to the construction site in good time owing to lengthy land acquisition processes.
The Standard had in early 2017 made queries to Kura on the progress made on the Eastern Missing Link Roads, which was by then facing delays, having been scheduled for completion in early 2016. The agency then said most of the work had been completed and expected RCC to hand over the project towards the end of the year. Two years later, little appears to have been done, not just on Enterprise Road but also the Eastern Missing Link Roads.
RCC was in 2013 contracted to construct the Eastern Missing Link Roads, which are a number of roads in Industrial Area, parts of the Central Business District and Parklands, all totalling to 16 kilometres.
The project also involved the construction of footpaths for pedestrians and non-motorised traffic in parts of Nairobi’s Eastlands area. The firm, which had by then never done any work in Kenya, was given the job as part of conditions by the European Union, who financed the project to a tune of Sh3.4 billion.
The total project cost was Sh4.56 billion, with the balance being paid by the Government. Among the conditions that are given to the Government by the EU include that the contractor would have to be from a European nation, or an affiliate of a European company.
According to RCC’s communication materials, the firm is a subsidiary of a Switzerland headquartered SBI International Holdings AG (SBI), which in itself is rocked in bribery allegations and has been under investigations by Israel authorities on claims of bribing Kenya’s Ministry of Transport officials to get lucrative road tenders.
Though headquartered in Switzerland, the company was started in Israel. Manufacturers lobby the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) noted that the state of the road has been hurting its members, who have to contend with traffic snarl-ups.
The lobby said that 75 per cent of its members is based in the Industrial Area. “Enterprise Road, in Industrial Area, which falls under Kura, is a strategic road for these industries. However, industries have been waiting for the expansion of the road for more than four years,” said KAM in a statement.
“The delays in the finalisation of construction of the Enterprise Road has led to increased traffic along the road, which has a spillover effect to adjacent roads such as Lunga Lunga and Likoni road.”
KAM said rainy seasons mean a rough time for manufacturers. Poor infrastructure including the Enterprise Road, according to KAM, has resulted in fewer firms investing in the area.
“Even on low rainfall account, the road gets flooded due to poor drainage, which disrupts manufacturing activities and increases the cost of doing business in the area,” said the lobby.
A new report by Knight Frank noted that investors in sectors such as warehousing and logistics are shunning Industrial Area, and opting to set up in the city’s outskirts, where infrastructure projects have moved at speed offering ease of access.
KAM says apart from Nairobi’s Industrial Area, other manufacturing hubs also face neglect in infrastructure development.

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Kenya Urban Roads AuthorityEnterprise RoadNairobi’s Industrial AreaKenya Association of Manufacturers





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Congo Republic ships first iron ore ahead of expected production boom : The Standard

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Iron mining in Congo. [Photo, Courtesy]

Congo Republic shipped its first iron ore exports on Friday ahead of an expected boom in production from mines owned by Congolese billionaire Paul Obambi’s Sapro SA and Swiss commodities giant Glencore.

Sapro mined the oil-dependent Central African country’s first iron ore in 2017 from its Mayoko project in the southwest and plans to reach output of 12 million tonnes per year by 2022.
Glencore’s joint venture with British Virgin Islands-incorporated Zanaga Iron Ore Co plans to ship 2 million tonnes of iron ore per year over the next two years, and 30 million tonnes by 2024.
Sapro, the Congolese government and British shipping company Ashley Global are also spending a combined $550 million on rehabilitation to Pointe Noire’s deep-water port, the Mayoko mine and an old railway track connecting the two.
At a ceremony on Friday in Pointe Noire attended by the mines minister, a ship loaded with 23,000 tonnes of ore set sail for China, where it will be processed for a European buyer.
“We are heading towards more than a century of production,” said Obambi.
Iron ore prices are near their highest in two years, spurred by growing demand from China and the collapse in January of a dam operated by Brazil’s Vale, which has cut into global output.
Congo’s economy has been hit hard in recent years by low crude prices, which led its debt to balloon. It is currently negotiating with the International Monetary Fund to try to secure a bailout. 

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NMG shareholders to earn $9.42m after $10m profit

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By BRIAN NGUGI
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Nation Media Group shareholders are set to earn Ksh942.7 million ($9.427 million) after the company declared a dividend of Ksh5 ($0.05) per share for the year ended December 31, 2018.

The group weathered a difficult business environment across the region to post a Ksh1.06 billion ($10.6 million) profit after tax, down from Ksh1.35 billion ($13.5 million) the previous year, a 21.8 per cent decline.

Addressing an investor briefing in Nairobi board chairman Wilfred Kiboro said NMG had shown resilience in a challenging environment marked by delays in payments, especially from the government, coupled with depressed regional economies, which impacted circulation volumes and advertising revenues.

The Group’s performance was adversely impacted by its decision to discontinue government advertising from July 2018 due to delays in settling outstanding debts.

Notably, part of the debt, amounting to Ksh304 million ($3 million) was paid in February this year by the Government Advertising Agency, GAA.

The group’s turnover stood at Ksh9.66 billion ($96.6 million), down from Ksh10.62 billion ($106.2 million) in 2017, a 9.1 per cent decline.

However, Mr Kiboro expressed confidence that the group will post a stronger performance this year, on the back of new and diversified revenue streams and an improved operating environment.

He said that NMG will continue to invest in the development of additional digital inventory to ride the wave of disruptions experienced by print media platforms across the world.

The group plans to invest Ksh200 million ($2 million) to develop additional digital inventory as part of its revenue diversification plan.

NMG digital platforms rose to 37.2 million unique monthly users in March 2019, from 32.3 million in March last year.

“Profit is not what drives the Nation Media Group,” said Mr Kiboro. “Profit is important, but our values and our philosophy are what we need to serve the greater good of society.

“However, in carrying out our mission, we have to operate sustainably as shareholders expect a positive return on their investment.”

Last year, the group diversified into music, with the launch of Lit Music, a record label for artistes, and LIT360 product offerings that include a TV show and a digital platform.

KenyaBuzz, an e-commerce-enabled experiential platform for movies, events and ticketing will be revamped in Kenya, and rolled out to Uganda and Tanzania.

Group CEO Stephen Gitagama said a diversified business strategy would bring in new advertising revenue and shore up the company’s growth.

“We will diversify our revenue streams while protecting our legacy income,” said Mr Gitagama.

“We will give our consumers highly desirable content that fits into their worlds wherever, however and whenever they need it.”

He added that the group had identified a Tanzanian shareholder in compliance with the regulations that require media companies to be majority-owned by locals.



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Astronauts capture view of Earth from space : The Standard

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The UK from space (Image: PA)

It’s a view that only a few people will see in their lifetime, but now astronauts have given us a glimpse of the view of Earth from space.

NASA has revealed an image of the UK, taken by astronauts on board the International Space Station(ISS) on February 26.
When the image was taken, the ISS’s altitude was 214 nautical miles away from Earth.
For comparison, this is around the same distance it takes to drive from central London to Manchester by car via the M40!

SEE ALSO :Gender bill flops again, a fourth time

A Nikon D5 was used to snap the shot, with a 17-35mm zoom lens, looking through a window of the International Space Station over the sea between Wales and Ireland.
Last year, the International Space Station celebrated 20 years since it was first launched, though the first batch of long-term residents did not arrive until two years later in November 2000.
In its lifetime, the station has been home to 236 astronauts.
This includes British ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Major Tim Peake, who was an inhabitant from December 15, 2015 until June 18, 2016.

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