Motorists to cough hefty levy to use “jam free” expressway

Friday, October 25th, 2019 08:40 | By

Motorists plying upcoming Nairobi Expressway will pay handsomely in toll charges to use the yet-to-be-constructed 27 kilometre highway linking Mlolongo and the James Gichuru interchange.

The utility, to be constructed by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), under the public-private partnership (PPP) model, means investors will recoup from toll fees paid by motorists.

Car owners will cough up Sh300 per trip to drive on either side of the three-lane dual carriageway making it one of the most expensive passage in the world.

A motorist will, therefore, spend Sh600 to drive from Mlolongo to James Gichuru and back, a move expected to affect fares for commuters boarding matatus plying the anticipated “jam free” route.

Public-private partnership

Government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna defended the hefty toll asserting that the benefits of the express passage far outweigh the costs.

“Being a PPP project, a mechanism to assist the developer recoup their investments is necessary,” he said.

He said a toll tariff of Sh11.24 per saloon car for every kilometre covered shall be instituted, a fee agreed upon based on studies conducted by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

Ten electronic toll plazas will be set up along the stretch of the highway besides the 10 entry and exit points.

It also emerged that the government will shell out Sh8 billion to settle a wave of compensation claims triggered by the construction of the expressway which will commence next month.

According to Oguna, Sh4.7 billion will be paid directly to property owners whose land will be hived off, while Sh3.3 billion will be paid out to relocate services along the construction path.

Entities to be affected by the new road include CCFC, Saj Ceramics, Kangtels Motors, Next Gen Mall, CID Training, Khalsa Primary School, Railway Golf Club and Uhuru Park. 

Others are the University of Nairobi, National Council for Persons with Disabilities, Boulevard Hotel and the Kabete Military Camp.

Affected instututions

The expressway will bite some 1.3 acres off Uhuru Park which means the road will encroach into the recreation park by about 23 metres. 

To cut the cost of construction, the government yesterday announced a Sh14.5 billion package in tax waivers during the construction period including VAT exemption (Sh9.9 billion), custom duty (Sh2.8 billion), withholding tax ( Sh1.7 billion) and cess (Sh200 million).

Trucks and other commercial vehicles including matatus are expected to pay more to use the Sh60 billion highway, costs that analysts warn could be passed on to commodities and commuters.

Still, Oguna insisted the toll payable would be a fraction of savings realized from vehicle operations costs.

Investors that have bankrolled the project will, however, not be allowed to increase toll at will during rush hour, but there is a caveat, toll will be reviewed based on the global business climate.

Despite concerns that the hefty toll will discourage some motorists from using the expressway, Oguna assured that the government will not force commercial or private vehicle to use road.

“Those that cannot afford it will be free to use the Mombasa Road and Uhuru Highway,” he clarified.

This follows concerns that the State will issue a directive similar to the one forcing all cargo onto the Standard Gauge Railway.

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