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Kenyans to pay billions to use the JKIA-Westlands Road

By Macharia Kamau | October 19th 2019
JKIA-Westlands expressway artistic impression.

Kenyans will pay billions of shillings to the Chinese firm that will build and operate the planned JKIA-Westlands Expressway for close to three decades.

China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) will make Sh2 billion ($20 million) in 2023, which will be the first year of operation for the road, and will be making over Sh10 billion per year by 2043.

This will be through toll charges, whereby saloon cars will pay a fee of Sh6 per kilometre to use the road, which would translate to Sh162 while trucks with four or more axles will pay Sh30 per kilometre, which could as much as Sh800. Motorbikes and tuk-tuks will not pay to use the road.

CRBC will build the road in a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) fashion, where in addition to the doing the design, sourcing for financing and undertaking construction works, it will operate the road for 27 years and recoup the investments through the collection of toll fees.

In a report that gives a preview of how the project will be undertaken, the firm said it will use Sh52 billion to construct the road and Sh25 billion to operate and maintain the road over the 27-year period.

Over the period to 2050, which is when CRBC is expected to hand the road over to Government, the firm will have made upwards of Sh150 billion assuming a four per cent annual growth in revenues.

CRBC expects to be making upwards of Sh10 billion per year by 2043. This will be enough to enable the firm to recoup the initial investment, cater for the maintenance of the road during the years and make a handsome profit.

It is the first major road project that is being undertaken through such a model. There has been an uproar in the past when the Government proposed to put up toll stations on roads.

However, the report by CRBC noted that Kenyans may not be averse to paying toll fees after all, with a majority of people (61 per cent) surveyed by the Chinese firm when conducting feasibility study saying they would be willing to pay to use the Expressway.

Thirty-nine per cent said they would not be willing to pay for use of the road.

Major roads earmarked for tolling include the planned Nairobi-Mombasa Expressway, the second Nyali bridge that will connect Mombasa Island to the mainland, the Nairobi Mau Summit Road, the Nairobi Southern Bypass and Thika Road.   

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