Expressway cost soars, State mulls roads bond
The government will pump additional Sh9 billion to build new features and revamp sections of the old Mombasa Road which was damaged during the construction of the 27km Nairobi Expressway.
That extra cash pushes the total cost of the project to Sh97 billion, implying that every kilometre will gobble up Sh3.6 billion.
It dwarfs the cost of constructing the 50 kilometre Thika highway which cost Sh32 billion or Sh640 million per kilometre indicating the increasing cost of setting up mega projects in Kenya.
“We are going to enhance the old road, all the way from Mlolongo to Westlands,” Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said on Saturday during public trials ahead of the official commissioning of the highway. “We are finalising a contract of Sh9 billion to make sure we enhance and beautify the old road. It makes sense to have the contractor who was doing the expressway rehabilitate the old road.”
The facelift is expected to commence this month, and will entail fixing the drainage systems, erecting street lights, fixing pedestrian and cyclist pathways, and a bus rapid transport (BRT) system, an additional feature which was not in the original cost.
With some sections of the lower deck road having been narrowed, the contractor will either acquire additional land for expansion or encroach the road reserves, signaling impending interruption to businesses along the affected areas.
It is however not clear whether the cost of acquiring land has been included in the rehabilitation plan.
Moja Expressway, a subsidiary of China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) which designed, financed and constructed the road said by Friday last week, it had registered 11,000 motorists who are keen on evading the gridlocks of the old Mombasa Road.
According to a feasibility study referenced by Macharia, approximately 800 motorists are registered everyday out of the 40,000 motorists plying the route daily.
Motorists who opt to use the Nairobi Expressway will pay between Sh120 and Sh1,550, depending on the distance travelled and the size of the vehicle.
Saloon cars will be charged between Sh120-360 with heavy vehicles having fewer than four axles paying four times more.
The contractor has partnered with Automobile Association (AA) Kenya to provide towing services along the Expressway at a rate yet to be communicated
CRBC will fine motorists who damage installed infrastructures, adding to the growing list of financial pain linked to the use of highway.
This as Kenya plans to revive its bid to float a Sh150 billion bond for maintenance and building of roads after the move flopped last year following debt warnings from the International Monetary Fund.
Treasury had slammed brakes on the floating of the infrastructure bond, saying it will affect the country’s debt sustainability level.
National Assembly’s transport committee chairman David Pkosing told Bloomberg that the government may tap at least half of the proceeds from taxes as security for the bond.
Pkosing hinted to Bloomberg that the proposal to raid the road maintenance levy fund would help open up issuance of road bonds.
A Sh150 billion bond would push Kenya’s public debt closer to the Sh9 trillion mark, further increasing the country’s cashflow problems.