Parliament to debate on Expressway fine regime
Parliament is expected to debate on how the Nairobi Expressway will be utilised including whether or not motorists will be fined in case of any mishaps affecting infrastructure along the highway.
“There is no fine yet prescribed anywhere because if we are doing fines it has to come into parliament and the committee will process and pass it. We don’t have something like that,” said departmental committee of transport chairman David Losiakou Pkosing during Expressway supervision.
The move omes amid concerns after local media houses reported Moja Expressway, a subsidiary of China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) which designed, financed and constructed the road, unveiled a list of fines of up to Sh8.8 million for damages caused.
Pkosing assured that the dilapidated condition of the old Mombasa Road will be repaired but by a different contractor, signalling that the government will have to pump extra money into the project.
“As committee we are concluding a budget and we are going to factor in the issue of mwananchi road (lower deck road). Repair cost will be under a different contractor,” said Pkosing. Earlier, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia indicated repair costs were included in the Sh89 billion approved for the construction of the highway.
If passed, the fines are likely to add to the growing list of financial pain linked to the use of the Expressway, the government had earlier reviewed upwards the toll rates for motorists using the Expressway by Sh50 to Sh360 from the previous Sh310 for the full Mlolongo-Westlands stretch, citing weakening shilling against the dollar.
“The Base Toll Rates may be adjusted as per the Consumer Price Index and Exchange Rate on and after the commercial operation date. The Exchange rate of USD to Kenya shillings on December 31, 2021 rose to Sh113.14,” the Ministry of Transport said in a gazette notice dated April 22, adding Gazette Notice No. 11326 of 2020 is revoked.
The current charges use the Sh113 exchange rate against the USD recorded in December 2021, Sh10 more than the Sh103 rate used in December 2020 to set the previous prices. Charges are dollar-based to cushion the Chinese operator from exchange rate losses, implying that the toll charges will increase if the shillings weaken.
The Kenyan shilling shed off about 5.3 per cent against the dollar, from Sh109.55 in January 2021 to Sh115.7 currently.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to officially open the Expressway on coming Saturday as Moja Expressway starts collecting toll fees to recoup the money spent in construction.
Speaking on Sunday ‘Uhuru Classic’ President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the Expressway opened to motorists on trial basis.
Uhuru said the road will reduce the rampant traffic jams and it also expected to cut travel time from the Mlolongo to Westlands from close to two hours to about 20 minutes. “This will give us the opportunity to see what can be improved on as the government puts final touches on the expressway,” Uhuru said.
Motorists using the Nairobi Expressway will be required to move at a speed of 80km/h once opened to the public.