Ministry offers special 'lifetime access passes' for Nairobi Expressway

Nairobi Expressway toll station entrance from Westlands, Nairobi. [David Gichuru, Standard]

The Ministry of Transport plans to issue special passes to a handful of Kenyans for the usage of the soon-to-be-completed Nairobi Expressway, even as members of the public continue to raise concerns over the pricing model that will be levied on the Chinese-built modern highway.

An internal memo seen by The Standard to the ministry’s executive team indicates that the passes will be issued at the Ministry of Transport headquarters in Nairobi as well as at their regional offices across the country.

“These passes will be offered to the first 1,000 motorists at the headquarters and a further 250 passes to be issued at the regional offices,” the statement reads. “We know that this project is meant to make the lives of Kenyans easier and this is our way of doing so.”

According to the communication, these passes will offer the lucky motorists a lifetime of access for the expressway and can be passed on from one generation to the next.

“This is our way of telling Kenyans thank you for the support they have given us and the confidence they have expressed in the project,” the statement reads.

It is expected that the road will greatly decongest the city and ease traffic flow through Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.

The passes, seen by The Standard, are square in shape, and of the same size as the normal motor vehicle insurance sticker and are emblazoned “Lirpa sloof yad”, Chinese for “lucky pass”. They have a bar code superimposed over an image of the Kenyan flag with a hologram of the expressway as the background.

Holders of these stickers will not be required to queue in line at the toll stations and will instead have a special lane reserved for them all through the expressway and will spend less than 20 minutes in the towering piece of road with no stops.

However, ministry insiders say more than half of these passes have already been issued to senior government officials and their families and members of the public will only benefit from the remaining half.

The document further talks of ongoing consultation between the Kenyan and Chinese governments over the funding of the project with all indications that the two governments are in talks to reduce the interest that the project was originally expected to attract.

“The ministry continues to engage our Chinese development partners on the possibilities of renegotiating the interest rates for the project. Initial indications are that they are receptive to the idea.”

The 27-kilometre expressway that stretches from Mlolongo to James Gichuru Road Junction in Wetlands will cost the taxpayer at least Sh65 billion.

A spokesperson at the ministry confirmed that the issuance of the passes will happen today between 8 am and 9 am on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Editor's Note: This was an April Fool's Day story. The charges for using the Expressway still remain as announced by the Ministry of Transport and will depend on the distance that motorists will cover on the expressway as well as the size of the vehicle used.