Kenya is set to spend Shs98.4 billion to upgrade and rehabilitate several roads and interchanges around the country this year. The massive infrastructure plan seeks to boost economic function and growth.
In the plan, 1.5 kilometers of road will be constructed at a cost is estimated at Sh103.3 billion in fiscal year 2017/18. The budget for road construction, therefore, totals to Sh201.7 billion. The number of roads covered by bitumen is expected to rise to 20.6 thousand kilometers, an increase of 42.3 percent. In 2016, 14.5 thousand kilometers were covered by bitumen. Meanwhile, the trunk and primary roads are also expected to rise significantly to 12.2 thousand kilometers by the end of fiscal year 2017/18. This will be an increase from 8.5 thousand kilometers in 2016.
According to the survey, roads under earth and gravel doubled to 140.8 thousand kilometers from 72.5 thousand kilometers after reclassification of roads was done. The government acknowledges the rising burden of the cost of rehabilitation and construction of roads while it tries to fix the infrastructure without increasing taxes or taking huge loans. The government has, therefore, resulted in scouting for private investors to repair infrastructure. The highways earmarked for construction will be tolled under Public Private Partnership models spanning for 15-20 years under the partnership.
Peter Mundinia, director general of the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) confirmed that feasibility studies carried out had shown that the private sector was the best option to help ease the infrastructure budget shortfall. He also said that the move would speed up the process of road construction and rehabilitation. However, some members of the public have raised concerns saying that the toll is a double tax on top of the already high fuel levies. This would, therefore, hurt many low-income motorists in Kenya.
Some of the major highways earmarked for tolling include the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA)-Rironi Highway, Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit road, Thika Superhighway, Nairobi Southern Bypass, the newly proposed Nairobi-Mombasa expressway and the second Nyali Bridge connecting Mombasa Island to the mainland.