Uhuru, Macron hold talks on Sh160b road funding
Eric Wainaina @EWainaina
Plans for the construction of the 233-km Rironi-Nakuru-Mau Summit Road kicked off yesterday after President Uhuru Kenyatta discussed its financing with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in Paris.
Uhuru, who is an official tour in France discussed the progress in negotiations regarding the funding of the Sh160 billion project which is expected to significantly cut the travel time for motorists and goods and ease traffic congestion on the Northern Corridor which connects the Mombasa Port to Western Kenya border of Malaba.
“President Kenyatta and his French host discussed the progress of key France supported infrastructure projects in Kenya including the expansion of the 233-kilometer Rironi-Nakuru-Mau Summit Road whose construction is set to kick-off in September this year,” read a statement from State House.
“The public-private partnership (PPP) agreement to expand the Northern Corridor road into a four-lane dual carriageway was reached during President Kenyatta’s visit to Paris in October last year,” it added.
Uhuru was accompanied to Elysee Palace by Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo, her Transport and Infrastructure counterpart James Macharia and Kenya’s ambassador to France Prof Judi Wakhungu.
The Rironi-Nakuru-Mau Summit road entails widening of the 175km of the highway between Rironi and Mau Summit by turning it into a four lane dual carriageway “and in due course its further development into a six lane carriageway in sections depending upon traffic volumes”.
The scope of works, according to the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) also involves widening of the existing 57.8 kilometer single carriageway of the A8-South highway between Rironi and Naivasha via Mai Mahiu.
It will also entail the erection of electronic toll collection system to enable the financier recoup its most investment using revenues and income generated in the system.
The design of the express highway connecting Nairobi to Mau Summit has proposed a provision of an elevated highway in Nakuru town, three interchanges, three pedestrian overpasses, 35 underpasses, three vehicular underpasses, two railway overpasses, four railway underpasses and one foot over bridges and wildlife crossings.
The proposed project is an expansion and improvement of the Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit highway, and it is part of the A8 highway and of the Northern Corridor that connects the Port of Mombasa via Nairobi to Malaba at the border with Uganda and onwards to Kampala.
“These have been brought about by higher traffic volumes, which have been driven by rapid economic growth not only in Kenya but also in neighbouring countries,” CS Macharia said of the road that is expected to complement the standard gauge railway (SGR) services between Naivasha and Malaba Border.
The Northern Corridor is the busiest and most important transport corridor in East and Central Africa, providing a gateway through Kenya from Mombasa Port via road, rail and pipeline to the landlocked countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
It is estimated that vehicular traffic on the current highway stands at 16,000 per day.
“There would be significant savings in the travel time to its users, mainly on account of increased speed, timely delivery of the commodities under transportation, probably reduced waiting time for getting the transport for freight and passenger movement and higher utilisation of vehicle and crew,” KeNHA says.
The project connects with the Sh17 billion James Gichuru Junction-Rironi (26km), which is an expansion of Nairobi-Nakuru highway that is underway, and is attached to the ongoing 27-kilometer, Sh62 billion four-lane, dual carriageway dubbed Nairobi Expressway that stretches between Mlolongo and Waiyaki Way and terminating at the James Gichuru junction.