An elevated road with two lanes is part of President Uhuru Kenyatta‘s plan to decongest Nairobi. The Sh38 billion double-deck road between Mlolongo and Westlands that is set to be constructed from next year, when completed,
will render the city‘s traffic nightmare a thing of the past.
Motorists would, however, have to pay every time they want to use it at toll stations.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia expects to get the project funding from the International Finance Corporation by the end of this year to pave the way for construction.
“We have the commitment of the IFC for the project,” Mr Macharia said during the Infrastructure Summit held at State House yesterday.
That project is among many in an estimated development price tag of Sh5 trillion required to transform the country.
Feasibility studies on the double-deck road project have been completed, he added, and only the design works of the two phases of the project were yet to be completed.
Various studies have placed the daily cost of the usual traffic snarl-ups in Nairobi at about Sh58 million, or Sh20 billion a year, besides the psychological distress on motorists and commuters. It is that pain that the State wants to eliminate through these projects, most of which would, however, have to paid for by the users.
The double-deck road will be complemented by a light rail system linking the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and the Central Business District.
Principal Secretary for Transport Irungu Nyakera said the project would be launched within “weeks” and would, on completion, cut travel time along the route.
A technical committee developing the tolling policy has submitted its report to Macharia, who expects to table it before Cabinet for consideration. If approved, he will draft an enabling legislation that would then be taken through the law-making process in Parliament.
“We are confident that tolling will enable us to get there,” said the Transport CS.
Matatu Owners Association chairman Simon Kimutai told the summit that public service operators would not mind paying tolls if that would translate into faster movement and lower vehicle maintenance costs.
President Uhuru Kenyatta told the business leaders present at the meeting that it would be prudent to let the private sector lead in the development of profitable projects like urban roads.
“That would leave the Government to focus on the smaller roads that open up the villages,” Uhuru said, after scoffing at the World Bank for its criticism that Kenya was spending too much, and from borrowed funds, on infrastructure.
Among the projects that have drawn the most criticism is the first phase of the Standard Gauge Railway line built at a cost of Sh327 billion, 90 per cent funded by China.
Uhuru claimed that the actual motivation behind the World Bank’s criticism was to ensure that Kenya and the rest of Africa remained a market for produce from developed countries.
At one point, the President told off senior Government officials in attendance, saying it was unacceptable that a kilometre of tarmac road would cost Sh120 million.
He used the occasion to take stock of the Government’s development projects and to lay out plans for new projects. Among the most ambitious projects is a plan to double the width of the entire Nairobi-Mombasa highway.
Macharia estimates the 400-kilometre project will cost about Sh100 billion.