MPs poke holes in expressway plan
Transport ministry’s plans to construct the Sh300 billion Mombasa-Nairobi Expressway could run into headwinds after Parliament took issue with the tendering process.
The National Assembly Committee on Transport yesterday queried how the contract was awarded without a competitive tendering process.
American firm Bechtel was awarded the tender for the 472km road and has already started laying the ground.
The Government is yet to decide how the project will be financed, but could opt for a loan, substantially pushing up the country’s public debt that is already at unsustainable levels.
The committee took the ministry to task over its decision to undertake the mega project soon after the commissioning of the Standard Gauge Railway. The committee members also said the project’s implementing agency – Kenya National Highways Authority – did not consult all the stakeholders during the public participation phase, which is a constitutional requirement.
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Committee chairman David Pkosing said the project lacked clarity, including how American contractor Bechtel was awarded the contract and how the Government would finance the project.
Mr Pkosing gave ministry officials up to Friday to furnish the committee with more details on the project, saying what had been presented to the committee was “scanty”.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia told the committee Kenya and the US entered into a government-to-government agreement in 2015 to build the road after which Bechtel was selected.
He added that the ministry was yet to settle on a model of financing the road, but was heavily leaning towards a public-private-partnership. Under this model, the firm will source for financing and build the road, then operate it for a number of years during which it will charge motorists for its use.
“The US Government nominated the company that would undertake the project,” the CS told the committee.
He added that the Sh300 billion was not the final project cost as studies were still going on.
The project comes after the commissioning of the Sh320 billion railway, which was expected to substantially decongest the Nairobi-Mombasa Highway.