Kenya: KeNHA unveils Sh394bn plan for highways

Source: Business Daily

The government plans to spend Sh394 billion in the next five years on construction, repair, and enhancement of major highways amid a tight fiscal space that has seen the Treasury slash the overall budget for roads in recent allocations.

In its five-year strategic plan, the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) disclosed that a big chunk of this money, Sh192.5 billion, would be used for the enhancement of major roads, including the dualling of the Rironi-Nakuru-Mau Summit.

The construction of new roads, including those already started, will cost Sh117 billion.

The State agency will use Sh84.5 billion to rehabilitate roads in bad conditions, bringing the total spend on road projects to Sh394 billion.

The government has emphasized road construction due to the country’s high risk of debt distress, opting instead to partner with the private sector to complete some of the roads.

In the review period, between 2023 and 2027, KeNHA will mobilize funds for the construction of three toll roads, including the dualling of the Rironi-Nakuru-Mau Summit to which KeNHA’s contribution will be Sh35 billion.

For the Mau Summit-Malaba section, the road construction agency plans to mobilize Sh12.5 billion even as the government remains tight-lipped about the new contractor for the construction of the dual carriageway that is supposed to open up the Northern Corridor.

The 473-kilometer Nairobi-Mombasa Expressway, which the National Treasury announced has received first-stage approval for construction, has a budget of Sh25 billion. The toll road will also be built through a public-private partnership model.

On road construction, the Kula-Mawe-Modogashe road will gobble up Sh11.6 billion and Isiolo-Kula-Mawe another Sh9.98 billion as the government moves to complete projects started by the previous administration.

KeNHA will construct Isiolo-Mandera, Barpello-Marichpass, and Marsabit-Segel-Maikona roads, which will provide access and link the arid and semi-arid regions, which are livestock production areas to critical markets. The agency will spend around Sh6 billion on this road.

“During the plan period, the Authority targets to construct 2,349 km of roads, this comprises 1,183 km new road construction, capacity enhancement of 674 km and rehabilitation of 492 km,” said KeNHA in its draft 2023-2027 Strategic Plan.

“This will increase the percentage of the paved national trunk road network to 63 percent. The condition of the road network will be maintained in good condition to ensure functionality and durability,” added KeNHA.

The state agency estimates a spending need of Sh653 billion for the development of an optimal national trunk road. However, the available resources for the construction, rehabilitation, and capacity enhancement of roads is Sh395 billion.

Additionally, the maintenance backlog is estimated at Sh120 billion against a five-year allocation of Sh107 billion.

“The National Trunk Road Investment Plan projects that Sh13 Billion is required annually if the maintenance backlog is cleared,” said KeNHA.

To implement this strategic plan including other infrastructure like bridges, KeNHA needs Sh708.7 billion of which Sh99.3 billion will be funded through Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), Sh1.7 billion through climate funding, and Sh8.2 billion through own source revenue.

“To effectively finance the implementation of this Strategic Plan, the Authority will lobby the exchequer for adequate funding; Ring Fencing Road Maintenance Levy Fund (RMLF) for road maintenance; engage development partners for the financing of major projects; enhance its internal revenue generation capacity, embrace PPPs and tolling of key roads,” the agency said.

THE AUTHOR: DOMINIC OMONDI

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