Mid this month, President Uhuru Kenyatta officially launched the construction of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA)-James Gichuru road Express way project, to be officially named the Nairobi Expressway.
The 27Km road, which is set to ease traffic congestion on Mombasa road, will cost at least Ksh65 billion, translating to Ksh2.41 billion per kilometre.
The project will be undertaken by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis.
The project could be one of the most expensive undertaken by the Jubilee government, with the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line from Mombasa to Nairobi costing at least Ksh765 million per kilometre.
The Government of Kenya (GOK) is expected to shoulder 25 percent of costs with the Chinese government providing for the majority chunk of capital expenditure.
As if that is not enough, the road will be another burden to motorists, who will have to pay the most expensive toll fees to use the road.
For instance, saloon cars will pay a fee of Ksh6 per kilometre to use the road, which would translate to Ksh162 while trucks with four or more axles will pay Ksh30 per kilometre, which could as much as Ksh800.
In what looks like neo-colonialism, CRBC has the right to adjust tariff based on market demand when the currency rate changes and no competitive projects before and during a specific period after the project.
During a workshop on smart cities held by the Institute of Certified Investment and Financial Analysts (Icifa), experts questioned the viability of the project, which they say has left a big number of city dwellers out.
“The first question we need to ask ourselves is, who is it being made for? Ordinary Kenyans or a select few? Because toll roads are generally very expensive,” said former Icifa chairman George Kihumba.
Already, questions of compensation for land where the project are rising up, with stakeholders revealing that land grabbers, who have stolen public land are set to be compensated.
The road will be handed over to the Kenyan government in 2049, after China has minted a cool Ksh102 billion through toll charges.
In August, it emerged that World Bank had pulled out of the James Gichuru-Rironi Road upgrade project, forcing the Government of Kenya to chip in and top up Ksh13 billion.
The World Bank was supposed to fund the project with Ksh13 billion, with the government paying Ksh3.3 billion.
Just like in other projects, cartels in the James Gichuru-Rironi Road would benefit with at least Ksh16 billion meant for compensation, having grabbed public land where the road would pass.
The government was seeking Ksh10 billion funding to cater for the additional unplanned land compensation claims, which seems to have backfired. Under its policies, World Bank does not provide funds for land compensation for projects which they fund.
Two months ago, it emerged that the promised Mombasa – Nairobi expressway might not start any time soon, following revelations that greed and graft reigned high at the Ministry of Transport and the Kenya National Highways Authority(KeNHA).
According to a local publication, the project cost was inflated by 66.7 per cent, from an estimated cost of US$1.8 billion (Ksh185.7 billion) to US$3 billion (Ksh309.5 billion).
The 485-kilometre highway was supposed to have commenced construction last year, but it was pushed to January this year as the US government which is the top financier smelt a rat, and hesitated its commitment.
In January, the project failed to take off and was pushed to June this year, but still works failed to commence.
Th project is supposed to be undertaken by American construction company-Bechtel International, which signed the contract on August 5, 2017 after a year-long consultation.