Leadership, News

Why Food Security Is A Matter Of National Pride.

Mueni a great friend of mine from France recent­ly took near­ly one hour to dri­ve the 28 kilo­me­ters from Voi to Sagal­la. This was almost four times the time it takes to dri­ve a sim­i­lar dis­tance, from Kange­mi to Kahawa Sukari.

The main dif­fer­ence between these loca­tions in Nairo­bi and Tai­ta Tave­ta Coun­ty can be summed up in two words – tar­mac road.  Almost the entire Voi – Sagal­la road is not tar­ma­cked, where­as the road link­ing Kange­mi and Kahawa Sukari is tarmacked.

Imag­ine the loss of time and oppor­tu­ni­ties to the peo­ple of Sagal­la when­ev­er they trav­el to Voi. This is the same case every­where we have bad roads. Indeed, good roads and there­fore mobil­i­ty con­tribute immense­ly to eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment and growth lead­ing to unmatched social security. 

Amidst this quest to step up our road net­work, I sug­gest that we be a fair-mind­ed com­mu­ni­ty as we com­mend the good work that the Gov­ern­ment has done in expand­ing our road­way across Kenya. In the last nine years accord­ing to my friend CS Macharia, the Gov­ern­ment has tan­gi­bly con­struct­ed more than 10,300km of new tar­mac roads. This dis­tance is the equiv­a­lent of 21 trips from Nairo­bi to Mom­basa. Apart from con­nect­ing peo­ple, these roads have boost­ed local economies, availed employ­ment to our youth, increased secu­ri­ty, and pro­vi­sion of pub­lic services.

Among these roads is the Isi­o­lo-Marsabit-Moyale high­way. When it was com­plet­ed in 2014, it rev­o­lu­tion­ized road trans­port not just in north­ern Kenya but also beyond Kenya. This Isi­o­lo-Marsabit-Moyale high­way is part of the Great North Road from Cape Town to Cairo. 

Anoth­er stretch of this trans-African road is the Kisumu Road infra­struc­ture project which was con­struct­ed between 2013 and 2016. It is part of a major inter­na­tion­al road artery that starts in Mom­basa and con­nects Kenya to Ugan­da, Rwan­da, Burun­di and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Repub­lic of Con­go. This mam­moth road cov­ers more than 2000 kilo­me­ters and boosts trade between all these countries.

Clos­er home at the very heart of Kenya in Nairo­bi, con­struc­tion of the 27.1 km-long Nairo­bi Express­way is roar­ing on. This road com­mences at Mlo­lon­go and con­cludes at the James Gichu­ru Road junc­tion. A stag­ger­ing 30,000 vehi­cles ply the entire­ty of this stretch every day, result­ing in nev­er-end­ing traf­fic jams, loss of time and money.

The fact that this Express­way is Kenya’s first Pub­lic-Pri­vate Part­ner­ship (PPP) Road Project proves that it is pos­si­ble to build our roads through inno­v­a­tive financ­ing that is not depen­dent on Gov­ern­ment. In the same inno­v­a­tive vein, this road project is empow­er­ing young engi­neers in an unprece­dent­ed fash­ion. It is giv­ing real-life expe­ri­ence to third-year stu­dents of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Nairobi’s School of Civ­il Engi­neer­ing. These young peo­ple are receiv­ing price­less prac­ti­cal knowl­edge that will posi­tion them to per­pet­u­ate qual­i­ty road con­struc­tion in every cor­ner of the coun­try and the continent.

Cur­rent­ly, in sub-Saha­ran Africa, roads are respon­si­ble for fer­ry­ing 75 per­cent of peo­ple and goods. It’s no won­der roads are the veins through which the econ­o­my strides on. As such, when roads fall into dis­re­pair or are sim­ply non-exis­tent, the econ­o­my slows down to a crawl. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, 50 per­cent of roads in sub-Saha­ran Africa are yet to be con­struct­ed. We must there­fore con­tin­ue build­ing roads that will not only link us to a brighter future, but also inject immense eco­nom­ic val­ue to our present.

The World Bank sums it up well when it asserts that for rur­al com­mu­ni­ties in par­tic­u­lar, a road is often an essen­tial life­line that links iso­lat­ed vil­lages to eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ties and ser­vices. Con­sid­er­ing that sev­en out of ten Kenyans still live in rur­al areas, we must con­tin­ue expand­ing the rur­al road net­work and ensur­ing that this expan­sion boosts the green econ­o­my.   In our cities, the new bypass­es con­tin­ue to address traf­fic con­ges­tion, envi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion, road acci­dents and spur eco­nom­ic growth around our cities. 

As we build these new roads, I sug­gest that we must ensure that con­trac­tors com­plete projects to the expect­ed con­trac­tu­al oblig­a­tion. Sev­er­al of our exist­ing roads lack main­te­nance and are in dire need of road fur­ni­ture includ­ing mark­ings, studs, and sig­nage mak­ing them unsafe for users. Think green, act green.

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About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

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1 Comment. Leave new

  • Thanks Dr. Green for your insights. Kenya in par­tic­u­lar & Africa as a whole have so much arable land, but agri­cul­ture is frowned upon by youth who want an office job. It’s time we shared sto­ries of impact that will encour­age more youth to farm.

    On food that is lost through wasteage, I encour­age use of tech­nol­o­gy in curb­ing this. I believe tech­nol­o­gy is a an enabler and can be used to pro­mote good stor­age practices.

    On an indi­vid­ual basis, let’s not waste food.


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