The construction of Nairobi’s first double-decker highway linking Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to Nairobi-Nakuru highway is set to begin later this year following the recent signing of a financing agreement with the World Bank.
The Sh38 billion elevated highway, meant to decongest central Nairobi, has been on the cards for nearly a decade. The first attempt collapsed after the World Bank pulled out citing the inclusion of banned figures in the list of contractors.
“We now have a new commitment from the World Bank for the Sh38 billion project and we expect to finalise discussions by December,” said Peter Mundinia, the director-general at Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) — the agency in charge of highways.
Mr Mundinia, who spoke on the sidelines of an infrastructure summit at State House, Nairobi, also indicated that the African Development Bank has expressed interest in funding the mega project.
The elevated dual carriageway is to be built in three phases beginning with the first 6.5 kilometres running from JKIA to Likoni Road and the Southern bypass interchange.
The second stretch (12 km) will connect Likoni Road to James Gichuru Road junction on Waiyaki Way in Westlands, while the last section will run from James Gichuru Road to Rironi, on Nairobi-Nakuru highway.
KeNHA yesterday said the tender for the Westlands-Rironi stretch had been awarded to China Wu Yi, paving the way for ground-breaking while designs for the first two sections are being finalised.
Motorists using the express road will pay a fee to escape the current heavy jams, especially on Mombasa Road.
“The express road will be subject to toll charges, estimated to stand at between Sh500 and Sh1,000 for convenience to those in a hurry,” said Transport secretary James Macharia.
Met with resistance
“It is a matter of choice and those who don’t want to pay will continue using the current roads,” he added.
Past attempts to introduce toll charges on public roads constructed using taxpayers’ cash like Thika Superhighway have been met with resistance and it remains to be seen how the State will overcome that resistance with the new project.
Mr Macharia said talks with World Bank are ongoing and are expected to be concluded by December.
Some of the special features of the road include a dedicated lane for well-organised, large-capacity buses under the bus rapid transit (BRT) plan that is aimed at improving public commuter service and easing congestion.
The road will come with multiple interchanges at intersections on Popo-Kapiti, Lang’ata-Lusaka, Bunyala, Rhapta and James Gichuru roads.
Parliament in 2008 approved the construction of a 77-kilometre double-decker road in Nairobi under a 30-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) deal that allows private firms to invest in a public project, operate it for an agreed period to recoup their expenses and profit before handing it over to the State.
But nearly a decade later construction works are yet to commence.
Initial attempts to build the road failed after the World Bank raised concern over the integrity of Strabag — the Austrian firm that had won the concession to build and operate the road.
Credit: Business Daily