Kenyans should not pay to use a road - DP William Ruto

Kenya kwanza Alliance presidential candidate William Ruto. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Kenyans should not pay to use a road, this is according to Kenya Kwanza Alliance presidential candidate Dr William Ruto.

Speaking Thursday night during a town hall meeting at Serena Hotel, Ruto said his administration will explore other ways to repay infrastructure loans other than through the imposition of toll fees on roads.

According to Ruto, toll charges implemented to meet financial obligations owed to contractors on roads such as the Nairobi Expressway that runs from Mlolongo to Westlands, place a substantial tax burden on the poor.

Should he win the presidency on August 9, Ruto said his administration, will, instead, implement a tax regime on a raft of goods and services to recoup investments.

“You don’t charge people for using a road… We are going to deploy the highway to be available to as many people as possible so that we can remove all the spaces where there is taxation. Taxation will be taken to products, not the highway,” said Ruto.

The deputy president’s sentiments come days after the Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) filed a suit at the High Court challenging toll rates announced by the Ministry of Transport.

According to Cofek, base toll rates gazetted by Transport CS James Macharia in December, and later updated in April, pose huge economic implications to Kenyans, given that the charges were introduced without public participation.

“It creates a caste system of inferior and superior citizens, pegged on affordability and wealth in a common country where we share citizenship and common heritage. It is akin to saying that the poor should not be treated in the same hospital as the rich,” said Cofek lawyer, Moses Sikuta.

In a new gazette notice, motorists using the Expressway from Mlolongo to the James Gichuru exit in Westlands are expected to pay between Sh120 and Sh1,800 to use the road, depending on the distance travelled and the size of their vehicles.

The Expressway - one of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s legacy infrastructure projects - was opened to the public in May 2022 for test drives. It is fully financed by the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model at a cost of over Sh88 billion. CCCC subsidiary, Moja Expressway Group, will operate the road for 27 years and collect toll fees.

Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) carrying more than seven passengers, boda bodas and tuk-tuks are not allowed on the road.