Uhuru to preside over major trade deals in France

President Uhuru Kenyatta makes his Eleventh (11th) address to the Nation on the coronavirus pandemic containment measures from State House, Nairobi on August 26, 2020. [PSCU, Standard]

President Kenyatta arrived in Paris yesterday for a three-day trip that will see him preside over the signing of business deals with the local consortium.

Uhuru is among other leaders expected to meet French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace.

The president is later expected to preside over the signing of a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) deal worth Sh180 billion for the dualling of the 190km Rironi-Nakuru-Mau Summit Road.

Macron was in Nairobi last year in March during which he also presided over the signing of various deals.

The president’s plane left Jomo Kenyatta International Airport yesterday morning and unlike in the past, his deputy William Ruto was not at the airport to see him off.

It was the president’s first trip since Covid-19 struck the world, grounding all major operations, including air travel, domestic and international.

Officials said the signing of the tolling concession with a consortium of firms under Rift Valley Connect and France’s Meridiam Infrastructure Africa Fund will unlock the construction of the road which will become the country’s first toll highway.

Chief of Staff in the Office of the President Nzioka Waita said the Nakuru-Mau Summit Super Highway will be a toll road given to a concessionaire to finance, build and operate. Waita yesterday said the PPP is not a loan.

“The combined effect of expanding Waiyaki Way from James Gichuru - Rironi and the new toll road from Rironi - Mau Summit will completely transform the economies of counties along the route. Later the planned Mau Summit-Malaba expansion will complete the corridor to western Kenya,” he said in a tweet.

Doing business

The road is expected to be a key segment of the Northern Corridor and will significantly cut travel time for people and goods thereby reducing the cost of doing business.

Kenya National Highways Authority had last year awarded the construction tender to French firm Meridiam Infrastructure Africa Fund, with others in the consortium, including Vinci Highways SAS and Vinci Concessions SA.

The project is expected to be undertaken on a PPP basis that will see the consortium raise funds for the road’s design, construction, maintenance and later operate the road on pre-agreed standards and specifications.

The contractor will be expected to recover its funds from the road through user fees (tolls), after designing, building, and maintaining it within the agreed time-frame.

Further, the contractor will be granted the operation and maintenance of the Southern Bypass, including the Gitaru to Rironi segment in Kiambu County.

According to plans, the contractor will expand the 175km between Rironi in Limuru to Mau Summit in Nakuru County into a four-lane dual carriageway.

The Rironi-Mai Mahiu-Naivasha road will also be re-carpeted. The road is used mostly by transit trucks.

China Road and Bridge Corporation is building the Nairobi Expressway at Sh59 billion, it stretches from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to James Gichuru junction in Westlands.

The road will also have a toll station to enable the contractor recover its monies.

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