Contractors will be invited to bid for the expansion of the Nairobi-Mombasa road to a six-lane highway.
This will offer relief to motorists on the busy road.
The two-lane road has been the main artery between Kenya’s only port in Mombasa and the hinterland.
Transport and Infrastructure Secretary James Macharia announced that the road would be built under a public private partnership. He did not disclose the repayment method to be used.
“There are plans for the expansion of the Nairobi-Mombasa highway,” Mr Macharia said during a business luncheon organised by the Kenya Ports Authority.
“It will be broadcast very soon about how we would like to partner with the private sector to build this road. In Mombasa for example, from the island itself, we are going to do a six-lane highway to get traffic out of Mombasa.”
The 485km highway is crucial for trade in the region since it connects the port to Nairobi and onwards to the hinterland markets, including landlocked Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
More than 90 per cent of goods landing at Mombasa port are moved by road and the rest by railway, underlining the pressure on the highway as the traffic through the port continues to grow every year.
The road has remained a single-carriageway despite an increase in the number of private cars and buses and trucks transporting cargo to and from the Mombasa port.
The narrow highway has sometimes led to gridlocks lasting for days and increased accidents that occur as drivers attempt to overtake.
Mr Macharia said that the expansion of the road, together with the nearly completed Standard gauge railway, is part of a plan to create an integrated transport system to support the port.
“The port cannot be seen in isolation — it should be seen as an integral part of infrastructure development,” said the Cabinet secretary.
Mr Macharia did not indicate what kind of public private partnership model would be adopted. The government has in recent years flirted with the idea of introducing toll roads.
Another possible model is the annuity programme that the State has already introduced to develop several roads.