Nairobi Expressway vandalism cost Sh700m, Murkomen says

Kipchumba Murkomen

Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen inspects the extent of damage at Mlolongo Expressway toll station on July 13, 2023. PHOTO | WILFRED NYANGARESI | NMG

Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen says vandals caused Sh700 million in damages on the Nairobi Expressway during Wednesday’s anti-government protests, which has left three toll plazas closed.

Moja Expressway Company, which operates the toll road linking Mlolongo to the Nairobi-Nakuru highway at Westlands via the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), said Thursday that motorists would not be able to access the Mlolongo, Syokimau and the standard gauge railway (SGR) toll stations as they remain closed.

“For your safety, we urge all motorists plying the Westlands-Mlolongo route to exit JKIA and Mlolongo-Westlands bound motorists to safely access the Nairobi Expressway from the JKIA Toll Station,” the firm said in a statement on Thursday.

Mlolongo, on the outskirts of the city, was the epicentre of riots that disrupted transport, vandalised the expressway, and generally caused mayhem. The dividing wall of the expressway was destroyed, the iron fence looted and the thousands of flowers lining it crashed onto the scorched tarmac.

Read: How markets are shrugging off opposition-led protests

Mr Murkomen said organisers of the protests would foot the cost of repairs of the damaged sections of the Sh87 billion, 27.1-kilometre road that was financed and built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) under a public-private partnership model.

The privately-sourced funds to build the double-decker highway will be recovered through toll charges by the CRBC subsidiary, Moja Expressway, which will operate the road for 27 years.

The Nairobi Expressway with 10 interchanges, to ease congestion on the busy Mombasa Road and improve mobility in the city, has been in use since May last year.

The interchanges are at Mlolongo, the standard gauge railway (SGR) station, JKIA, Eastern Bypass, Southern Bypass, Capital Centre, Haile Selassie Avenue, Museum Hill, Westlands, and James Gichuru Road.

Moja Expressway said it would restore the road to its original state before the vandalism and beef up security.

Matatus back on road

Mr Murkomen, while inspecting the damage on the expressway Thursday, also lifted the suspension of public service vehicles (PSVs) from using the toll road.

The government had banned PSVs carrying more than seven passengers a year ago following safety incidents and road carnage.

In one of the incidents, an Embassava Sacco minibus sped into the toll gate at Mlolongo entry, smashing into others on the line.

On Thursday Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen announced that the temporary suspension “proved successful with PSVs taking the necessary steps to ensure their vehicles are roadworthy and adhere to set rules and regulations.”

- Hilary Kimuyu, Daniel Ogetta and Hellen Githaiga