|Snarl-up at Kibarani Mombasa: |
Traffic jams begin at the Island.
The expanded Nairobi- Mombasa Highway will be a toll road, we can report. The highway will cost a whopping US$2.2 billion (Kshs230 billion at current exchange rates) which, according to the feasibility study, will be recouped in 25 years.
This is one of the five major highways slated for tolling. Others are: the Nairobi- Nakuru- Mau summit road; the second Nyali Bridge; the Thika- Nairobi road and the Southern By-pass also in Nairobi.
The implementation of the projects under PPP model means the projects will be undertaken by the private sector who will recover their investment in the course of the life of the projects.
Currently, transport cost accounts for around 30% of the cost of goods and services across the region due to poor infrastructure and the thousands of man-hours lost in traffic daily. These projects will, to a large extend, cut down costs for motorists in terms of fuel savings, lost man hours and vehicle maintenance costs.
The 485km highway will according to government sources, be expanded into a six lane highway from Mombasa to Nairobi.
It is expected to ease traffic snarl ups at the highway which is a critical artery for trade in the region for, it connects the Mombasa port to hinterland including Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
It has remained a single-carriage way for long despite increased traffic of buses and trucks ferrying goods and people daily. To enhance its effectiveness, the Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit road is also slated for expansion.
The government of Kenya is negotiating with the US export-import (Exim) bank for the financing of the multibillion-shilling project and expects to close the deal soon.
“We expect and hope that we are going to start the construction of this road in the next one year once we complete the talks,” said Peter Mundinia, the Director General, Kenha. “This is a major road that requires upgrading to curb the frequent traffic snarl-ups,” he added.
Even then, works have already started at sections of the highway notorious for traffic jams. These sections include the Mombasa-Mariakani section and the Athi River-Machakos turn off along the busy road.
The Athi River-Machakos turn-off, a stretch of 20km will cost US$51.2m the project is being constructed by the China Railway 21st Bureau Group Company Limited.
The 20km section will be made a ual carriage and will have two new bridges one measuring 98m for Mombasa bound traffic and another of 50m for traffic headed to Nairobi.
The Mombasa bound will be the longest bridge along the Northern Corridor.
The KeNHA expects the upgrade of the turnoff to be completed in 2018.