Bank okays Sh20.7b funding for Nairobi-Mau Summit toll road

Vehicles at a police road block along the Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit highway. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The African Development Bank (AfDB) says it is ready to pump Sh20.7 billion towards the construction of the Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit dual highway transport corridor.

It has revealed this amid crucial talks with the President William Ruto government and the toll road's stakeholders signalling that the financial backers of the project are keen on its implementation.

The Sh180 billion proposed toll highway project has been beset by delays after the new Government said it is evaluating it and engaging the partners for the project ahead of its implementation. The toll highway from Nairobi to Mau Summit was expected to begin in September 2021.

A French consortium is expected to design, finance, construct, operate and maintain the expressway.

AfDB Director-General for East Africa Nnenna Nwabufo told The Standard that the lender's board had okayed the $150 million (Sh20.7 billion) funding for the toll road project and the lender was awaiting the final decision of the new government on the future of the project.

AfDB Director-General for East Africa Nnenna Nwabufo.The lender has okayed Sh20.7 billion funding for the toll road project. [File, Standard]

The AfDB funding would represent about 10 per cent of the Sh180 billion required for the upgrade of the project is a boost as it offers hope for the stalled project.

"The new government has come, they need time to understand the project. And it is normal for a new government that was not part of the planning to have questions, to ask the financiers, to ask the project sponsors, that engagement is actually going on and we continue to engage with the government on that," said Ms Nwabufo.

The transport corridor which is often beset by traffic jams is a major artery and corridor to Kenya's most agriculturally rich and populous regions.

The cash-strapped new government of President Ruto is banking on Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) to massively unlock infrastructural gaps.

"Definitely for a country like Kenya where the fiscal space may be constrained, PPPs should be the way to go, so we don't envisage any pushback. But even if there is pushback that is our role we explain to the government as we understand and of course, there are concessions to be discussed and agreed and finalised and we are at that level of engagement and consultation," said Ms Nwabufo.

Should the new Government give a nod for the project, The Standard understands, the AfDB loan would be given to a consortium led by French infrastructure firm Vinci, which secured a 30-year concession contract in 2019 to build and operate the Nairobi-Nakuru highway.

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