A section of Thika Super Highway in Nairobi/ constructionreviewonline.com
NAIROBI, Kenya Mar 15- The consumer’s lobby group, Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) has petitioned Parliament to reject a new law set to return toll fees on both old and new roads, on grounds that Parliament failed to meet the public participation requirement.
“The said regulations fatally fail to meet the threshold of public participation as envisaged under article 10 of the constitution. Road tolls are discriminatory, especially where options do not exist,” Cofek secretary-general Stephen Mutoro said.
The State through the National Treasury is pushing Parliament to approve the controversial toll fund law revealing that it has the potential to unlock over Sh162 billion for the construction of the Nairobi-Mau Summit highway.
Treasury told MPs that the creation of the National Roads Toll Fund will facilitate financial closure on the Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit Toll Road Project.
Treasury chief administrative secretary (CAS) Nelson Gaichuhie said the attainment of the financial closure on the project will trigger the payment of an excess of $3.5 million (Sh400 million) into the Public-Private Partnership Project Facilitation Fund.
“The establishment of National Roads Toll Fund…will facilitate the mobilization, off-balance sheet, of over Sh162 billion in road development funds, and the operation and maintenance of the Nairobi to Mau Summit Highway as a Public-Private Partnership toll road for 30 years, in pristine condition, and a return to the public of an asset with residual economic life in terms of the contracted obligations under the PPP agreement for the project,” Gaichuhie said.
The construction of the toll highway from Nairobi to Mau Summit is expected to begin in September and is expected to reduce traffic congestion on the northern corridor.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia says the project will widen the existing Rironi- Mai Mahiu–Naivasha road into a seven-metre carriageway with two-metre shoulders on both sides.
He said the project will also include the construction of a four-kilometre elevated highway through Nakuru town, and the building and improvement of interchanges along the highway.
The Rironi–Nakuru–Mai Mahiu road forms a vital part of the most important transport corridor in Kenya — the Northern Corridor— which originates in Mombasa and terminates in Malaba.
The State awarded the 233km Nairobi to Mau Summit Toll Road contract to a French consortium of Vinci Highways SAS, Meridian Infrastructure Africa Fund, and Vinci Concessions SAS in 2020.
The project will see the road expanded into a four-lane dual carriageway through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model.
The consortium is expected to design, finance, construct, operate and maintain the express.
The firm will then recoup its finances using the revenues and income generated by the electronic toll collection system along the road for 30 years.
A parliamentary committee has already approved the Public Finance Management (National Road Toll Fund) Regulations 2021 which seeks to establish the Fund.
Last week The National Assembly’s Committee on Delegated Legislation approved the Public Finance Management (National Road Toll Fund) Regulations 2021 and asked all MPs to pass the proposed law.
The regulations await the green light from the House to enable Treasury to establish the kitty.
Once the new regulations come into force, motorists will pay toll fees on both new and existing roads adding to mounting taxation on the common mwananchi.
The regulations, which will establish the National Roads Toll Fund, seek to implement the Public Roads Toll Act, Cap 407, which guides the imposition of toll fees on major national roads.
The law empowers the Transport Cabinet Secretary to declare any road or a portion of a road, including a bridge or tunnel on a public road, as a toll road.
The Treasury told Parliament that tolling will be applied on roads that have traffic to generate adequate fees like Thika Road and Jogoo Road.