Kenyans fight to understand why US company is billing them Ksh900 million per Km to build road

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The government has come out to defend the proposed plan to build a brand new 466-kilometre express highway from Nairobi to Mombasa.

The road which is expected to cost sh380 billion will be done by a US based firm known as Bechtel. The project has been termed as too expensive considering that it will cost a whooping sh900 million per kilometer. However, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia defended the project saying the design is what makes the highway costly to build.

“You can go to a shop and find one suit costing sh10, 000 and you to another and find another suit costing a million shillings. You need to look at the road designs first. As yourself what does the Western Bypass involve in terms of design and engineering? It has seven interchanges. We have also done roads whose cost per kilometer is less than sh30 million,” explained CS Macharia. 

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The highway which will constructed parallel to the existing Nairobi-Mombasa highway and the new Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) will have 48km of interchanges,27 overpasses,21 underpasses,189km of local roads and 189 culverts with a speeding limit of up to 120 kilometers per hour.

President Kenyatta has previously stated that infrastructural investments are what will help propel the country’s economy and all that needs money.

“All this costs money. Your taxes have paid for clear, tangible progress; this development trajectory will propel our country to new heights of prosperity,” said Uhuru.

Dr. Samuel Nyandemo an economics lecturer criticizes the project questioning the cost variation compared to other similar projects and the mode of tendering.

“Road construction costs, like all major infrastructure projects, are being held hostage by among other reasons single sourcing of contractors in questionable government to government deals and kickbacks. Otherwise, why would there be a huge difference between the costs of a road constructed in Kenya and its neighbors,” wondered Nyandemo.

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In comparison, the Dongo Kundu bypass in Mombasa that stretches for 25.8 kilometers cost sh1.5 billon per kilometer while in Ethiopia the Modjo-Hawassa Expressway 200-km similar to the one being proposed from Nairobi to Mombasa cost sh350 million per kilometer indicating difference  of a whole sh550 million.

Kenya National Highway Authority Director David Muchilwa said the costs vary depending on the design.
“The project designs have been evolving along with the costs,” said Muchilwa.

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