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Higher motor insurance costs likely in Sh60bn plan for roads maintenance

A truck at the Mariakani weighbridge. Overloaded trucks are blamed for road destruction. FILE PHOTO | NMG
A truck at the Mariakani weighbridge. Overloaded trucks are blamed for road destruction. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The cost of motor vehicle insurance and licensing may soon rise as the government mulls a new levy to help raise an additional Sh60 billion to finance road maintenance.

The Kenya Roads Board (KRB) is also considering new levies on outdoor advertisement in addition to incorporating long-term infrastructure bonds and public private partnerships (PPP) to help bridge budget shortfalls.

“The current estimates indicate that some Sh60 billion could be generated annually from these potential sources. Further, the KRB is currently undertaking a detailed review of road construction materials with the view of recommending cost-effective materials for road development and maintenance” the board said in a brief for its 2017/18 programme.

“Other potential savings are expected to be realised from revised road construction specifications and contract documents,” it added.

Estimates by the Transport ministry show that at least Sh70 billion is required to maintain the country’s roads annually. This amount excludes the backlog of maintenance programmes from previous years estimated at close to Sh400 billion.

Road maintenance in Kenya is funded through the Road Maintenance Levy Fund (RMLF) and proceeds from transit tolls.

Overall, the KRB said the RMLF is projected to net Sh63 billion in the current financial year buoyed by the Treasury’s move to increase fuel levy from Sh12 a litre to Sh18 effective July 15, 2016. It also forecasts another Sh473.66 million from transit toll fees.

“This  collection  is,  however,  still inadequate  for  road  maintenance  given  that  backlog  maintenance  has  not  been addressed fully, and that a total of Sh 10.29 billion will be allocated to the Road Annuity Fund,” the agency said.

Insufficient funding means that the length of road network maintained is shorter and work schedules are adjusted to reflect availability of funding.

Transport secretary James Macharia last month said that owing to a shortage of funds for infrastructure development, the government had revived the annuity roads financing programme that was shelved in May over inflated costs and the slow pace of project approvals.

Under the scheme private contractors will design, build and maintain public roads using their own funds as stipulated in the annuity model. A payment plan would then be crafted by the National Treasury, contractor and participating commercial banks.

The Treasury is then supposed to reimburse lenders at a uniform rate over an agreed period of time.

Investments  in  local road  development  and  maintenance    continue  to  be undermined by deterioration of the pavement by over-loaded trucks.

“Although this problem  is  widely  acknowledged  by  the  government  and  most  stakeholders, enforcement of axle load laws and regulations has been ineffective due to widespread bribery  and  other  forms  of  corruption  involving  officials  and  police  manning weighbridges with the transporters,” the KRB said.

In a bid to tame destruction of roads by heavy trucks, Kenya is shifting to virtual weigh-bridges that would make it faster and more transparent to monitor such vehicles.

The Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) targets to set up 10 virtual weighbridges on key transport corridors amid bloating costs of road maintenance and delays in the screening of vehicles.

The electronic devices will be located at Archers Post on the Isiolo-Moyale road, Sagana Bridge on the Thika-Nyeri road, Yatta on the Thika-Garissa road, Kamulu on the Nairobi-Kangundo road and Eldama Ravine on the Eldama Ravine-Eldoret road.

Others will be at Kibera on the Nairobi Southern By-pass, Moi’s Bridge on the Eldoret-Kitale road, Mayoni on the Mumias-Bungoma road, Ahero on the Mau Summit-Kisumu road and Mwatate on the Voi-Taveta road.

Kenya currently uses the statistic scale weigh-bridges. There are nine located at Mtwapa, Mariakani, Athi River, Gilgil, Webuye, Rongo, Juja, Busia and Isinya.

Unlike the static toll stations blamed for congestion and corruption on major roads, the virtual weigh stations are able to pick records in real-time without asking the driver to slow down or stop the vehicle.

“An automated system will be activated whenever a vehicle with beyond threshold overloads is encountered,” KeNHA said in June.