Motorists to use cashless payments for Nairobi Expressway

Nairobi Expressway

The Nairobi Expressway which is under construction.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

When the Nairobi Expressway is completed, motorists who opt to use it will need to purchase a special toll payment card, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia has revealed.

Drivers will be able to use the partially elevated expressway above Mombasa Road to avoid traffic jams below.

The Sh72 billion, 27km expressway will have 27 toll booths. China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), the parent firm of China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), which is funding the highway, has almost finished installing the booths, Mr Macharia said.

“There is a technology which they are bringing in, which will require drivers to have a card that they will load (with) money and then they can use the expressway without stopping along to pay with cash,” he said.

“It will almost be continuous, if you haven’t paid, it will not open. It will be a cashless system.”

The dual carriageway will have 11 interchanges, including the standard gauge railway terminus at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the Eastern Bypass, the Southern Bypass and Enterprise Road.

Toll roads can be confusing if the motorist is from a country where they’re not common.

James Macharia

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia during the interview at his office in Nairobi on February 2, 2022. 

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

A toll road is a highway, or section of it, where the user pays a fee for its upkeep and maintenance. Often, toll roads tend to be faster and less congested routes.

Toll road types vary from country to country. Some countries have electronic toll roads, while others still have traditional ‘person in a booth’ ones. And others have a mixture of electronic toll roads that use tickets or transponders and manned booths.

Kenya will use the electronic toll road version.

CS Macharia said the expressway from Mlolongo through Uhuru Highway to the James Gichuru Road junction in Westlands was initially expected to be completed in December 2022 but that deadline was pushed forward to this month. He said it is 95 per cent complete.

Public-private partnership

“We are almost there, the expressway is 95 percent complete and tests will start in March. As we speak now, most of the machinery that was being used to construct it has been moved to construct the Lang’ata Road viaducts which will eventually help with traffic,” he said.

The building of the expressway was launched by President Kenyatta in October 2019 and it is the first public-private partnership road project in Kenya.

The concessionaire (CRBC) is responsible for designing, financing and building the expressway, and will maintain and operate it during the concession period.

The PPP arrangement allows private investors to own infrastructure projects for a given period to recoup their funds before ceding the ownership to the State.

On completion, the road is expected to ease traffic flows in and out of the city centre.

Moja Expressway, a subsidiary of CRBC, will operate the road for 27 years to recoup the money through toll fees.

Kenyans are expected to pay between Sh100 and Sh1,550 in toll charges, depending on the size of the vehicle and the distance covered. The charges will be dollar-based to cushion the Chinese operator from exchange rate losses.