Influence of maintenance criteria on prioritization of road projects by road authorities in Machakos county, Kenya
Globally the prioritization of road projects faces significant challenges due to the non-inclusion of key indicators that can assist informed decisions on which roads to be undertaken first. In developed countries, the prioritization is based on the prevailing economic activities and social needs. Developed countries focus on the conventional plans for cities and towns, in making judgments on prioritization of roads. Routine studies are rarely updated through new studies that reflect existing road and traffic condition because the old plans are used as a benchmark. In Kenya, road prioritization fails to balance between the technical feasibility and the Funding for Road Works availability. In most cases, road prioritization occurs due to political influence. In Machakos County, road authorities established as state corporations deal with prioritization of the road projects. The research project discussed the level in which the independent variables which include; road connectivity, traffic volume, road condition survey and Funding for Road Works influence the prioritization of road projects. The dependent variable for the study was the prioritization of road projects. The study aimed at establishing whether the need for road connectivity is considered during prioritization of roads by focusing on intra-county and inter-county roads, access to markets and urban centres, and whether missing road links are given priority. The study sought to identify whether the traffic volume for both motorized and non-motorized traffic is usually considered as a key indicator during prioritization of road projects. Investigations of the road condition survey and Funding for Road Works were discussed as key parameters that affect prioritization of road projects. The research project carried out a descriptive survey design on employees working with the road authorities and representatives of public road transport in Machakos County. The respondents interviewed were from Kenya National Highways Authority, Kenya Rural Roads Authority, Kenya Urban Roads Authority and public transport sacco representatives. A Cronbach alpha coefficient of 0.72 was determined, which indicated that reliability of the research instrument used was good. The study interviewed accountants, engineers, road supervisors, technicians and public road transport sacco members. The target population for the study was 65 and a population census was conducted as opposed to sampling because time and resources allowed it. There were 38 respondents out of the 65, indicating a response rate of 58.46%. The independent and dependent variables showed a good association with all exhibiting a chi-square of less than 0.05 at 95% confidence level. The study found out that availability of funds was a critical component of the maintenance criteria influencing road projects prioritization with 84.2% of the respondents agreeing to a great extent. Second was road connectivity especially access road to major urban centres and markets with approval rate of 78.95% of the respondents. The study established that the road condition survey, especially the road surface condition was a vital component for consideration during prioritization with 71.1% responses on great extent scale. The findings also indicated that the traffic volume, especially motorized was given priority and traffic congestion during road prioritization for maintenance at 60.5% approval rating from the respondents. The research further revealed that priority of maintenance was given to the road surfaces that were in the poor condition. However, the study recommended that road maintenance priority should also be given to the roads with good surface condition to ensure the level of service for the road is maintained and the road asset preserved over its design life.
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