Determinants of road maintenance cost: a case of Western Kenya Road Projects
The extent to which a nation's land mass is covered by road network is an index of the degree of mobility of people, goods and services within the country, and the quality of the network measures the ease and cost of that mobility. The purpose of this study was to investigate the determinants of road maintenance cost: a case of Western Kenya road projects. The study had the following objectives: establish the extent to which procurement process influence road maintenance cost in Western Kenya road projects; determine how categories of contractors influence road maintenance cost in Western Kenya road projects; investigate how availability and cost of materials influence road maintenance cost in Western Kenya road projects; examine how environmental factors influence road maintenance cost in Western Kenya road projects. The study employed descriptive survey research design whose purpose was to determine the influence of the determinants influencing road maintenance in Western Kenya. The target population consisted of 437 contractors, six region managers, 29 road overseers, seven engineers and 12 procurement officers that formed the population of the study from KeNHA, KERRA and KURA. The sample size consisted of 56 contractors, six regional managers, seven engineers, nine road overseers and 12 procurement officers.The respondents were selected through simple random and purposive sampling techniques. The research instruments used were a questionnaire and an interview schedule. The questionnaire contained both open ended questions and closed ended questions. On validity of the instruments, the researcher used content validity while through pilot testing process was carried out to test reliability comparing with a Pearson product moment of 0.5. The researcher then analysed the data and presented the results in form of frequency tables. The findings included:. during procurement process, procurement procedures were flouted because firms which were not the most experienced in field of activity were chosen and the time taken between pretender site visit and the signing of contract agreement took long; The class of contractors negatively influenced the cost of road maintenance because the respondents were of the opinion that high class contractors (A to C) did not always quote low prices and contractors with more knowledge and skills in road maintenance did not necessarily quote lower prices and this had significant negative correlation on cost of road maintenance; results on the availability and cost of materials revealed a significant negative correlation on the cost of road maintenance and environmental variables like uncontrollable factors of the environment such as climate, terrain and location did increase road maintenance cost. The study had the following recommendations: the government should have clear procurement procedures which should be monitored to ensure they' strictly followed and heavy penalties levied on those found flouting them; road maintenance, especially with respect to the contracting and bidding for civil works, requires the effective evaluation and supervision of contractors and their bids; the government should reduce the tax rate on construction materials, construction plant (machines and equipment used during construction) and service plant (equipment used in the operation of the infrastructure project) and environmental consideration should be included in road maintenance programs and should be looked at from methodological, technical, economical and institutional/contractual points of view. The findings of this study may be useful to the Ministry of Roads, contractors, engineers and other stakeholders in Ministry of Roads in their improvement of policies and practices on road maintenance.