Revealed: What you will pay to use Nairobi expressway

The 27-km Nairobi expressway construction along Mombasa Road is ongoing and is expected to be completed by December 2022. The Sh62.2 billion road is expected to decongest the traffic jam on Uhuru Highway and Mombasa Road. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Motorists who use the Nairobi Expressway, which is under construction, should expect to pay as much as Sh1,798 in toll fees for every journey for the next 27 years.

The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure published a notice in the Kenya Gazette of December 31 that classified the Sh60 billion expressway as a toll road and set the rates to be charged.

The China Road and Bridge Corporation is funding construction of the road under a public-private partnership (PPP), which allows it to recoup its investment through toll charges. The payments will start in June next year after the road is completed.

The projected revenue from the road is Sh2 billion ($20 million) by 2023, which will be the first year of operation. By 2043, revenue is expected to have risen to over Sh10 billion every year.

The estimated toll per kilometre of the 27.1-km road is Sh11.50. The toll is in the range of between Sh6 and Sh30 per kilometre depending on the size of the vehicle that the contractor presented to the Ministry of Transport.

Saloon cars will pay a minimum of Sh100 to use the road while trailers will pay as much as Sh1,550 depending on the number of axles.

The toll rates published by Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, however, are exclusive of tax and will increase one VAT is charged. This means that a saloon car will pay a minimum of Sh116 while a trailer will attract a toll of Sh1,798 after tax.

Construction started in October 2019 and the road is expected to be in use by June next year after the Chinese contractor pushed the timeline forward by six months.

The cost of using the expressway will also increase with the distance travelled. This is because vehicles can enter and exit the expressway at different points.

Nine toll stations

A vehicle that enters the expressway where it starts at the African Inland Church in Mlolongo and exits at the standard gauge railway station in Syokimau, or the Eastern Bypass, will pay Sh160.

The same vehicle will pay Sh310 to exit at the end of the expressway on James Gichuru Road in Westlands. There are a total of nine toll stations from Mlolongo to the James Gichuru Road junction.

The weight of a vehicle, for example, a trailer, will also determine the toll charged. A vehicle with more than two axles but less than four will pay Sh1,240 from Mlolongo to James Gichuru Road, which is four times the base rate.

Vehicles with more than four axles will pay five times the base rate, or Sh1,550, for the same distance.

The expressway will only serve four classes of vehicles–from light vehicles with two axles to heavy vehicles with four or more axles.

Two-wheeled and three-wheeled vehicles such as motorcycles and tuk-tuks are prohibited from using the expressway.

Ambulances, police and military vehicles, however, are exempt from paying toll charges.

The road, which is the first one to be constructed under a PPP framework in the country, is expected to ease traffic on Mombasa Road that is notorious for hour-long gridlocks.

It will take about 15 minutes to cover the entire 27km stretch compared to the more than two hours that motorists take currently from Mlolongo to Nairobi during peak hours due to heavy traffic.

There are plans for another toll road–the Sh160 billion highway from Nairobi to Mau Summit–whose construction is expected to start in October. A French consortium will design, finance, construct, operate and maintain the expressway for 30 years.