The cost of building the Nairobi Expressway has risen to Sh87.9 billion, from the Sh65.2 billion initial budget estimate provided by the Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha).
The highway was to be fully financed by the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), the parent firm of China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), which is building the highway. It revealed in regulatory filings that the project's contract value was Sh72.8 billion, an increase of Sh7.6 billion.
Last year, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia explained the cost of the project had risen by the Sh7.6 billion after it emerged that the road linking Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to Westlands would require extra funds.
The government has also spent an extra Sh15.1 billion on the 27-kilometre-long highway, which seeks to decongest traffic on the main artery into Nairobi.
During an interview with the Nation, Mr Macharia said the cost of the project development is fully financed by CCCC. When asked how much the government was contributing to the project, Mr Macharia said Kenya would underwrite the right of way costs in the form of land compensation and transfer of utilities, “which are estimated to cost Sh15.1 billion”.
“The money was used to compensate landlords and owners of utilities that paved the way for the construction of the Nairobi Expressway,” he said.
The funds enabled telecommunications firms, Kenya Power and Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company (NWSC) to move their infrastructure.
The project, which is 95 per cent complete, is funded under a public-private partnership, Mr Macharia said.
“We are going to make sure the payments of the toll are safeguarded so that Kenyans can afford using this road. That is why we shall charge as low as Sh110 to use it,” he said.
Motorists 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.
“The technology will require drivers to have a card that they will load (with) money and then use the expressway without stopping along to pay cash,” he said.
Drivers will be able to use the elevated expressway above Mombasa Road to avoid traffic jams below at a fee.
The expressway will have 27 toll booths, which the contractor has almost finished installing, Mr Macharia said.
Moja Expressway, a subsidiary of CCCC, will operate the road for 27 years to recoup its investment through toll fees.
“It will almost be continuous, if you haven’t paid, it will not open. It will be a cashless system,” the CS said.
The dual carriageway will have 11 interchanges, including at the Standard Gauge Railway terminus, at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), the Eastern bypass, the Southern bypass and Enterprise road.
Construction of the expressway started in late 2020 and has come at a high cost for businesses and residents who use Mombasa Road, with motorists enduring traffic jams lasting hours.