The Jubilee administration is racing against time to fulfil its ambitious pledge of building 10,000 kilometres of roads ahead of the next elections.
Sources said the matter has become so important that President Uhuru Kenyatta makes it appear on his agenda during meetings with leaders of developing nations and donors to ensure he has a positive report to present to Kenyans when he seeks re-election in 2017.
This was perhaps the reason financing of roads was high on his agenda when he travelled to Brussels in Belgium, where the European Union (EU) headquarters is located, 12 days ago.
Meetings were held with financiers of Kenya’s infrastructure programme.
With him was Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, whose task was to negotiate and sign deals with the EU and its investment organ, the European Investment Bank, to release funds for construction of roads.
“We are concluding with the European Union a facility that will hopefully be signed shortly, to see how we can expand the road to Mombasa from Mariakani. Because for us, Mombasa is a key and critical entry point, not just to Kenya, but to the greater East African region,” President Kenyatta told Kenyan journalists who had accompanied him on the trip.
“You all know the congestion that is there. We are grateful for the European Union support on this matter,” he added.
The EU plays a significant role in the financing of infrastructure in Kenya, and entered into an agreement with the government to spend Euros 437.5 million (Sh50 billion) on roads in the country between 2014 and 2020.
Government statistics show that more than 2,100 kilometres of new roads have been tarmacked since the Jubilee administration assumed office in 2013, and work on 3,000 kilometres is set for completion before its term ends in 2017.
In an interview with the Nation, Mr Macharia said the government was rehabilitating and upgrading roads at county level in a bid to ease the transportation of goods.
“These projects will be in every county in Kenya. These projects will boost agriculture, tourism, trade and other economic activities and turn Kenya into African giant,” he said.
During the three-day visit to Brussels, Kenya struck a deal to expand a 30-kilometre stretch of the Mombasa-Nairobi highway, with the EU providing Euros 250 million (Sh28.1 billion).
Phase 1 of the road from Mombasa to Kwa Jomvu will have six lanes, while the section from Jomvu to Mariakani will be expanded to four lanes.
Other financiers of the roads are the Germany Government-owned bank KfW — Euros 50 million (Sh3.5 billion), European Investment Bank — Euros 50 million, with a government contribution of Sh630 million.
The project, which is expected to start in October, is however, likely to be delayed by issues of land compensation.
“The cost of land is very high, especially in Mombasa. Imagine we are paying Sh8 billion from 1 kilometre to 8 kilometre.
Source: The Nation