Ministry of Roads and Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen has proposed a review of the existing procurement laws to cap a provision of 40 percent for local professional engineers in all public-private partnership projects.
Mr Murkomen said the move is to ensure that local engineers take part in the growth and development of the country’s economy by tapping their knowledge, skills, and new technologies to actualize the government agenda.
He said the local engineering profession holds the keys to unlocking and unleashing the potential of emerging technologies in the industry for the benefit of Kenyans.
The CS said his ministry has moved with speed to align its policies and programmes with sector targets including Sustainable Development Goals, Agenda 2063, Vision 2030, the Fourth Medium Term Plan (MTP IV), and most crucially the Bottom–Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA).
He said the Ministry is actively seeking to scale up the use of Public-Private Partnerships financing for commercially viable projects including new highways, seaports, and airports and others among which the local engineers should be part and parcel.
The CS disclosed that in the road’s subsection alone, the government is undertaking projects portfolio valued at Sh700 billion which are geared towards reducing the cost and duration of travel across the country and the region.
Other projects being undertaken by the ministry are the modernization of the National Air Traffic Management System and disaster recovery center for a total cost of Sh1.1 billion to be completed by 2026.
The government he said, is also undertaking the Ukunda Airstrip runway extension valued at Sh200million, which will significantly boost the South Coast tourism value proposition as well as the construction of Angama Airstrip in Masai Mara and the rehabilitation of the Lanet Airstrip and Wajir terminal building.
Murkomen said the government is also seeking funding for the extension of the Standard Gauge Railway to Malaba, the planned construction of the Mombasa Malaba highway, and the ongoing rehabilitation of the Metre Gauge Railway lines across the country.
However, the CS said that despite these multi-billion shillings investments, local engineers continue to miss opportunities to engage meaningfully in the projects due to their low professional and financial reach.
“The ministry will introduce a change in policy and laws to recommend local engineers to undertake 40 percent of capital projects under public-private partnerships”, said Murkomen.
Murkomem said currently, Kenya has a shortage of over 7,000 professional engineers across the various engineering disciplines with only 2,500 engineers professionally registered so far.
To that end, the Engineering Board of Kenya has announced revamped plans to hit a target of 10,000 professional engineers by 2027 to address the human capacity gaps in the industry.
“A nation’s competitiveness depends on the capacity of its industry to innovate and upgrade manufacturing and infrastructure”, said Murkomen.
The CS said that despite large investments in national infrastructure projects, the participation of local engineers in these projects and programs has unfortunately been constrained by limited training and exposure to specific skills, a gap that has been taken by foreign engineers.
The CS announced that the government is already implementing the Graduate Engineers Internship Programme (GEIP) which is structured to impart professional engineering competencies to recent entering graduates.
Murkomen who was addressing participants during the 4th Engineering Partnerships Conference in Naivasha said the program has a current cohort of 220 trainees and is set to train 1,000 others in the next two years.
To address and bridge these gaps, the CS said his ministry through the Engineer’s Board of Kenya will establish the Kenya School of Engineering which will be the anchor regional center for excellence in engineering.
To enhance regulation of engineering services, the government has rolled out an online registration portal and project registration portal, a move he said will root out quacks in the industry who have been blamed for the collapse of houses.
Murkomen at the same time said Kenya is pursuing signatory status to the Washington Accord which will ensure engineering programs and graduates are recognized globally and enjoy global mobility.
He said the Ministry of Roads will soon gazette a task force to harmonize engineering regulatory frameworks including education, skills recognition, career pathways, and review of engineering Schemes of Service.
On their part, members of the Engineering Board of Kenya welcomed the CS remarks noting that they seek to be engaged in the actualization of the government’s bottom-up agenda in the next five years.
The government has far lined up billion of shilling towards key sectors including affordable housing, healthcare plan, digital superhighway, and creative economy and environment and climate change programmes