NAIROBI, The Kenyan government has promised to deliver some 350 kilometres of new roads by the end of 2017 but drivers are more concerned about fresh moves being made to introduce the collection of toll on the nation’s main highways.

The journey towards re-introducing toll stations on some roads has inched closer with the National Treasury calling for bids for transaction advisory services for the procurement of a toll operator. The bid document indicates that the toll stations would be offered under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with proceeds to be used for developing and maintaining roads.

The Ministry of Transport has been decrying the budgetary allocation from the National Treasury as well as money collected through the Road Maintenance Levy as being insufficient for the development and maintenance of roads.

The World Bank is financing the tolling project in order to increase private sector investment in the infrastructure sector so as to create an enabling environment to generate a pipeline of bankable PPP projects.

The National Treasury invitation for bids from consultancy firms to provide transaction advisory services for the tolling operator envisages the advisers assisting the PPP unit and contracting agencies to select a capable toll operator company for Kenya’s first toll roads.

The project is expected to be undertaken in two phases with the first phase involving a feasibility study and project implementation schedule while the second phase will be PPP procurement. Consultancy firms have until the end of July to submit their bids.

There will be three formats of charging toll fees at tollbooths: a manual format where motorists stop and pay; an electronic system which uses prepaid cards which can be swiped; and a third system in which vehicles may be fitted with tags.

Meanwhile, Principal Secretary (Deputy Minister) for Infrastructure, John Mosonik, said that apart from the new roads to be delivered by year-end, some new road projects would be launched soon, including the expansion of Nairobi’s Outer Ring Road and the Meru bypass.

Mosonik also said construction of the missing link connecting the Nairobi-Naivasha highway to the Northern Bypass around Ruaka would begin soon.

Under phase one of the government’s road construction programme, about 2,000 kilometers of roads would be upgraded.