Kenya is seeking Sh4.2 billion from two international lenders to build what could be the World’s most expensive footbridges.
Each of the steel bridges will cost an average of Sh800 million – which is about four times the price for similar pedestrian crossings put up over Thika Super Highway.
Interways Construction Works, the contractor building two overhead crossings on eight-lane Thika Road is doing the work for Sh430 million, or Sh215 million apiece.
How prices compare
This is cheaper than the one footbridge planned over the two-lane Langata Road around T-Mall and four are planned for over the six-lane Mombasa Road.
Incidentally, the construction of Sh65 billion expressway along the same stretch where the bridges were intended was commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday.
Having the expressway in place could mean the footbridges would be untenable.
Despite this, negotiations for the Sh4.2 billion funding are still going on. Details of the loan negotiations for the project and tens of others were presented to the National Assembly’s Committee of Delegated Legislation last Wednesday.
One of the lenders, ICO is to provide Sh2.66 billion (Euro 22.3 million) on concessional terms while the balance of Sh1.6 billion is intended to be a commercial loan from Spanish Bank BBVA.
The status report states: "The draft financing agreements have been agreed and negotiated by both parties.”
But the architectural designs of the expressway to be built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation do not have any allowances for footbridges.
Among the reasons is that the expressway will be elevated several metres high, supported by 10-metre pillars to sustain the traffic flow on the lower deck.
Despite this, the State has put pen to paper on the project although it is clear that the steel footbridges are no longer tenable.
Already, the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) Director General Eng Peter Mundinia has indicated that the bridges intended for the Mombasa Road stretch may have to be erected elsewhere.
“The footbridges will have to be moved elsewhere, such as to Thika Road where we feel we need more,” he said.
However, erecting the bridges at a different location other than the intended ones as contained in the financial negotiations is bound to have variations in costs.
Mundinia said that the construction of the expressway will have significant changes, including overpasses linking the Eastern and Southern bypasses which will be elevated even higher.
Two existing footbridges that were erected less than five years ago, and at what was suspected to have been inflated costs, will have to give way.
At least Sh363 million was paid to the contractor, H Young, for the two bridges at the General Motors crossing and another at Bellevue in South C that under investigations by Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission