The Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) has stepped up its efforts to raise the ceiling on the weight of trucks allowed on Kenyan roads in tandem with the rest of East African countries in the next two years.
KeNHA has undertaken the construction of a 28.6 kilometre Nairobi Southern bypass targeting heavy commercial vehicles transporting cargo from Mombasa into the hinterland.
The three-year project, which started last year, is valued at Sh17.1 billion and is expected to facilitate the country's switch from the current gross vehicle weight limit of 48 (three axles) to 56 tonnes like other East African countries for smooth flow of goods in the common market.
“The country will adopt the proposed axle load by 2015 with the completion of the bypass,” Charles Njogu, KeNHA's corporate affairs manager told the Business Daily on a media tour of the project.
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Project engineer Paul Omondi said the bypass will decongest the Northern Transport corridor connecting Mombasa and Malaba.
The new road is financed by a concessionary loan of three per cent from the Exim Bank China to the tune of Sh14.5 billion or 85 per cent to be serviced after a period of 15 years. The Kenyan government will finance the remaining Sh2.6 billion or 15 per cent.
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KeNHA said nine kilometres or 23 per cent of the project has been completed with the road having been already charted.
The Southern bypass comes on the back of twin projects- the Northern and Eastern bypass- completed last year at a cost of Sh9.1 billion.
KeNHA says the high cost of the Southern bypass is due to the specifications of the road. The road will have four interchangers (overpass junctions), seven bridges to pave way for future expansion of feeder roads and 21 underpass routes.
Additionally, the dual carriage way will have four lanes.
Upon completion, the Southern bypass will connect Mombasa Road and the Nakuru Highway through Mombasa-Likoni Road junction, Community road, Kibera, Ngong Forest, Dagoretti, Thogoto, Alliance High School, Kikuyu and terminate at Gitaru.
The bypass will help to remove trucks from the central business district and reduce cost of road maintenance.
Rwanda and Burundi, with an axle load limit of 53 tonnes, are also expected to raise theirs to 56 tonnes. Under the proposed system, cargo cleared in any of the countries would move freely without having to be checked at each weighbridge as is the case currently.
A uniform axle load for the five East African countries is expected to significantly increase the pace of clearing cargo at the seven weighbridges in Kenya, eventually lowering the cost of transportation.