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What you need to know as Nairobi Expressway nears completion

Nairobi Expressway tarmacked. [David Gichuru, Standard]

The Nairobi Expressway is now entering the home stretch. While it may have missed the March deadline when President Uhuru Kenyatta had indicated he would be taking a ride, the project is largely complete, with the contractor now putting on the finishing touches.

Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) in a statement last week said there will be guided trials of the road and the systems that have been installed, including the automated toll gates.

Motorists will pay between Sh100 and Sh1,550, depending on the distance travelled and the size of their vehicle, to use the 27-kilometre Nairobi Expressway once it starts operations. Ambulances, police and military vehicles will be exempt from paying the road toll. Boda bodas, tuk tuks will not be allowed on the road.

The charges will depend on the distance that motorists will cover on the expressway as well as the size of the vehicle used.

The Ministry of Transport has set the base rate for the whole distance between Mlolongo and James Gichuru Road in Westlands at Sh310. The minimum that motorists can pay will be Sh100 that will cover short distances such as between Museum Hill and Haile Selassie Avenue.

The money levied on motorists to use the road is expected to pay the contractor – China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) – which is constructing the road through a public-private partnership (PPP) model.

It has designed the road and sought financing. To recoup its investment, it will operate it for a period of 27 years.

CRBC has since registered a company, Moja Expressway, to operate the road that has in turn started recruiting staff who will oversee the operations.

It is the first major transport infrastructure project that is being put up through the PPP model.

The Nairobi Expressway

  • 27 kilometres
  • Between African Inland Church (AIC) in Mlolongo to James Gichuru Road in Westlands

Groundbreaking

  • President Uhuru Kenyatta presided over the groundbreaking ceremony on October 16, 2019.
  • The road was expected to be completed by end of 2022 but this was later revised and delivered ahead of schedule

The cost

  • Initially project was to cost Sh60 billion.
  • This has been varied to Sh88 billion.
  • The billions that the road will earn CRBC
  • The Transport ministry has in past estimates said the road will generate Sh302 billion over 27 years through the toll.
  • Minus the initial investment and the operational costs, CRBC is expected to make a profit of Sh106 billion (or Sh3.9 billion on average per year) over that period.
  • CRBC had projected that the road would initially have a slow start and generate Sh2 billion in the first year of operation.
  • It expects traffic volumes to grow over time and will be making over Sh10 billion by 2043

Build, Operate, Transfer

  • CRBC will operate the road for 27 years up to around 2050 and will then transfer the road to the Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha)
  • KeNHA estimates that the road will reduce the amount of time motorists take on the road from two hours during rush hour to between 10 and 15 minutes
  • A major problem during construction for motorists using the old Mombasa Road and Waiyaki Way has been heavy traffic, with construction works on the Expressway affecting the old road.

What you will pay

  • Between Sh100 and Sh1,550 depending on size of vehicle and distance travelled.
  • Saloon cars (and other light vehicles with two axles) to pay Sh310 between Mlolongo and James Gichuru (the full length of 27.1 kilometres).
  • The least you can pay is Sh100 between Haile Selassie and Museum Hill (the minimum also applies on other short distances).
  • Heavy commercial vehicles (with four or more axles) will pay the highest rates - Sh1,550 between Mlolongo and James Gichuru Road, Sh500 between Haile Selassie and Museum Hill. The rates are pegged on the exchange rate between US dollar and Kenya shilling and may change should the shilling weaken, as it has since the rates were gazetted