The construction of a new Sh160 billion toll highway from Nairobi to Mau Summit is expected to begin in October next year after Kenya signed a commercial agreement with French consortium Vinci.
The deal was sealed during the first day of President Uhuru Kenyatta's state visit to France yesterday.
The French consortium made up of Vinci Highways SAS, Meridian Infrastructure Africa Fund, and Vinci Concessions SAS will design, finance, construct, operate, maintain, and transfer the expressway for 30 years, said Vinci.
The firm will recoup its finances using the revenues and income generated by electronic toll collection system along the 233km road once complete.
The project will expand the two-lane Nairobi to Mau Summit highway into a 4-lane dual carriageway.
The project will also involve widening of the existing Rironi- Mai Mahiu–Naivasha road to become a seven-metre carriageway with two-metre shoulders on both sides, construction of a 4Km elevated highway through Nakuru town, and construction and improvement of interchanges along the highway.
"The agreement will enter into force after the conduct of an environmental and social impact assessment, in accordance with the highest standards of the World Bank. The financial closing of the project should take place by the end of 2021", French firm Vinci said in a statement.
The project will upgrade the old Nairobi-Nakuru highway that serves the major trade route between Nairobi and Western Kenya.
The project will improve transport connections for people and goods between eastern and Western parts of Kenya and neighbouring countries.
"The Rironi–Nakuru–Mai Mahiu road forms a vital part of the most important transport corridor in Kenya — the Northern Corridor— which originates in Mombasa and terminates in Malaba," said Transport secretary James Macharia in a statement.
The Rironi-Mai Mahiu–Naivasha road serves the Naivasha Inland Container Depot and the proposed industrial park in Naivasha.
It also serves traffic destined to Narok, South Western Kenya and Northern Tanzania.
President Kenyatta is being hosted by his French counterpart Emanuel Macron during his official visit.
During the visit, Kenya signed an additional deal with France for the funding of a commuter railway link between Nairobi’s central business district and the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport by 2021.