On August 24, 2016 In Statements and Speeches

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, It’s a pleasure to see so many distinguished Kenyans here today, and to be joined by friends and partners of Kenya. A very warm welcome to you all. Now, I am delighted to launch the works for the dualling of Ngong Road Phase 1, intended to decongest the City of Nairobi. I had said, some time ago, that this would be done; and I am glad – relieved, even! – that we are finally under way. Ladies and Gentlemen, All of us want to see Kenya free and prosperous. And throughout our history, one key to that freedom and prosperity has been our roads. If we go back to our earliest history as an independent nation, we will remember that some of our very first investments, and some of our heaviest, were in our roads. And that remained the case for a long time: indeed, by some estimates, our roads have been our largest item of public expenditure. But let us also admit that Nairobi is clogged because for many years our investment in its infrastructure has not matched its growth. And that lack of investment is expensive: you may have heard that congestion costs Nairobi approximately Kshs 147 billion a year — a figure that doesn’t take into account the environmental and psychological costs that Nairobians must bear. Ladies and Gentlemen, Under-investment in infrastructure is an expensive mistake. That is why my Government has set aside considerable resources to develop infrastructure, not just here in Nairobi, but across the country: from the Standard Gauge Railway, to the renovation of the port in Mombasa, to the roads in the North. We need to bring an end the suffering of many Kenyans who are either stuck in traffic; we need to connect Kenyans to the national transport network. Once we do, what will the country look like? Well, we will be much closer to 10% annual GDP growth. Kenyans will not sit in traffic for hours every morning. Much of our cargo traffic will move by rail, rather than road, freeing up space on our roads. Our farmers will be able to sell their meat and produce right across the country, wherever the market is best. We can do this. We will do this. Ladies and Gentlemen, On the journey to truly first class infrastructure, Kenya has had several companions. I am grateful to the Government of Japan, the World Bank, the European Union, the African Development Bank, the People’s Republic of China, and, more recently, Brazil, all of whom have joined us on this journey. Thank you. As you have heard, the Government of Japan has also expressed interest in partnering with us in Phase II of this project, and in the development of Nairobi railway station viaduct. I am deeply grateful to them, and, as we prepare for TICAD VI, I believe we will deepen our friendship. Kenyans, of course, will already have heard that the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, will be visiting us. I ask you all to give him the warmest welcome. Ladies and Gentlemen, It is time to make the most of the opportunities we now have. First, relocation of services certainly should not be a bottleneck to improved connectivity in the country. We can no longer delay services and infrastructure to hundreds of thousands of people simply because a few Kenyans do not want to move their businesses, or their homes. The interests of the city, and the country, matter more than the interests of a few. Second, as we continue to improve our infrastructure, I think we can all agree that our safety record needs to improve. The number of casualties on our roads is unacceptable and I am asking the relevant enforcement authorities to work extra hard, so that these new roads bring freedom and wealth, not death and injury. Ladies and Gentlemen, It is now my pleasure to declare these roadworks officially launched. Asanteni sana. God bless you, and God bless Kenya.

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