The road network in Kenya at independence was 45,000km out of which only approximately 2000km were paved while the rest was mainly earth.
In order to support the country's development objectives the country embarked on a programme of upgrading roads to bitumen standards and improvement of rural roads to gravel standards. As a result, the paved road network was expanded from 2000 km in 1963 to 11,189 km in 2009.
In 2001, the Ministry of Roads, with financing from World Bank, engaged a Consultant to undertake a Road inventory and Condition Survey for the Classified Roads using Geographical Positioning Systems. The RICS study led to the establishment of a database for classified roads in a Geographical Information System.
Unfortunately, the extent of the unclassified rural and urban roads remained unknown and was estimated to range from 80,000 to 130,00km making it difficult for effective maintenance and development planning.
OBJECTIVES AND SCOPE
In view of the above and in order to establish the extent of the existing road network and its condition, Kenya Roads Board, with funding from the Nordic Development Fund under the Northern Corridor Transport Improvement Project, in 2006, commissioned a Consultant to undertake a road inventory and condition survey for the hitherto unclassified road network.
The Consultant was also required to combine the Road Inventory and Condition data for the classified roads undertaken in the previous study by Ministry of Roads so as to have the entire road network inventoried and its current condition known.
An inter-ministerial steering committee was established at KRB to guide the consultant in undertaking the study and monthly meetings were held.
The Consultant constituted several field teams (ranging from 3 to 10 working simultaneously), each consisting of a surveyor and a driver, to undertake the field surveys. The main equipment used was 4-wheel vehicles, All Terrain Vehicles (ATV) and Motor cycles which were equipped with Long Range HF radio communications systems, laptop personal computers with GPRS modem for sending field data back to head-office, andÃ‚Â hand-held Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment for data capture.
All unclassified public roads within the country which had at least 9m road reserve and were in a motorable condition were expected to be surveyed.
The surveys were undertaken on a district by district basis between May 2007 and April 2009 and begun with Nakuru District as the pilot district.
Wherever possible, the field teams consulted with the District Roads officers and the Local Council officials to assist in identification of the roads.
The surveys included collection of detailed physical road and bridge inventory data (include surface type, road width, culverts etc) and visual condition surveys (classified as excellent, good, fair, poor and very poor).
The exercise was initially expected to be completed within 18 months but suffered delays. It was eventually completed 22 months later. Some of the key challenges encountered in the project include:
Delays in field surveys
Availability of existing survey data:
Delays in responding to queries
Size of the network
Creation of districts
Results of the RICS
Based on the survey data collected, a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) database has been established at Kenya Roads Board. This provides comprehensive road inventory and condition data which is essential for planning and implementation of maintenance and development programmes by Road Authorities.
The Consultant has prepared new road maps for the national roads, districts and urban centers as well as thematic maps for surface type, surface condition and traffic.
Based on the RICS, the road network has been established to be 160,886km long comprising of 11,189km of paved roads and 149,689km of unpaved roads.
There has been some improvement in the road network condition for the classified roads which is currently estimated at 17% good, 51% fair and 31% in poor condition.
However, majority of the unclassified roads are in unmaintainable condition with only 5% good, 22% fair while 72% is in poor condition.
Hence a large portion of the network is in either poor or failed condition and requires urgent rehabilitation to restore it to a maintainable condition. The government therefore, urgently needs additional funding to restore the network to a maintainable condition.
Summary of the Road Inventory
Summary road conditions
SAMPLE MAPS SHOWING DENSITY OF ROADS MAPPED IN 2004 AND 2009 IN NAKURU AREA