The upgrade of the busy Mombasa-Nairobi highway into a dual carriageway will start next year as talks to build the Sh230 billion road nears completion.
Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) director-general Peter Mundinia says the talks with the America’s export-import (Exim) bank for the financing of the multibillion-shilling project is ongoing and expected to close soon.
“We expect and hope that we are going to start construction of this road in the next one year once we complete the talks. This is a major road that requires upgrading to curb the frequent traffic snarl-ups,” he said.
Mr Mundinia said works have already started at a section of the highway notorious for traffic jams.
These sections include the Mombasa-Mariakani section and the Athi River-Machakos turn off along the busy road.
The Athi River-Machakos turn-off, which is a stretch of 20 kilometres will cost Sh5.3 billion and is being constructed by China Railway 21st Bureau Group Company Limited.
The 20-kilometre section will be dual carriage and will have two new bridges one measuring 98 metres for Mombasa bound traffic and another of 50 metres for traffic headed to Nairobi.
The Mombasa bound will be the longest bridge along the Northern Corridor.
The KeNHA expects the upgrade of the turnoff to be completed next year.
Mr Mundinia said motorists would pay for the expanded Nairobi–Mombasa road via a toll charge to recoup the construction costs.
He said feasibility study had indicated that the capital used in investment will be recovered in 25 years.
The 485-kilometre highway is crucial for trade in the region since it connects the Mombasa port to hinterland markets, including landlocked Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
But it has remained a single-carriage way for long despite increased use by thousands of buses and trucks ferrying goods and people daily, making it uncompetitive.