The first section of the 473-kilometre Nairobi-Mombasa expressway will open to the public in two years, according to Kenya National Highways Authority.
In a detailed construction plan released after signing a Sh230 billion commercial agreement with American firm, Bechtel International Inc, KeNHA said construction of four lanes, with provision for increase to six lanes and 19 interchanges will start in January.
The signing of the commercial agreement opens the next stage of mobilizing funds from the project financier, Export Credit Agencies (ECA) in USA.
According to KeNHA, the 473-kilometre highway will be completed in 10 sections within six years, meaning the highway will fully open to traffic in 2024.
According to KeNHA director general, Peter Mundinia, the project has been structured to achieve early completion, under a fast track delivery model with concurrent design and construction.
He said that the first section, from the junction with Namanga road near Kitengela will have an interchange near Konza city and a spur road to Kyumvi on Mombasa road. This first section is targeted to open to traffic in October 2019.
“The expressway is a motorway with controlled access designed for consistent speed of 120 kilometres per hour and will reduce the journey time from Nairobi-Mombasa from over 10 hours to approximately four,’’ said Mundinia in a statement.
The high-speed expressway will serve as a central part of the national and regional transport system, helping promote trade and development in Kenya and further into Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Plans for the expansion of the road kicked off in February 2015 when the government hired PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to conduct a feasibility study on the commercial and technical viability of the project. The PwC report said construction of the highway is viable through an availability type of payment mechanism where toll operator collect user revenue on behalf of the Government to be used to pay for private capital investments.
‘’The project is designed to accommodate toll stations and will provide a faster transit to support growth and industry. This mode of repayment is expected to take 25 to 30 years due to the high cost of financing, and would also require government subsidies,’’ said Mundinia.
The highway links Kenya’s capital to the port of Mombasa,and serves cargo movement to Uganda, Rwanda and DRC.