There has been delays in breaking ground for the much anticipated dualing of the Nairobi-Mombasa Highway by US firm Bechtel, casing speculations.
The 485-kilometre project was estimated to cost Ksh300 billion and would be funded by US government. It would have four lanes in a bid to do away with the notorious traffic jams along the current road.
However it has emerged that the US government is yet to provide the funding, fearing for the current Kenya’s debt burden and probable overpricing of the project.
This was revealed by US ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter who spoke to a local vernacular radio station in Kisumu.
He said that the US was still analyzing whether contract was cost effective for Kenya which has a piling debt.
“Bechtel did not lose the deal, we are still working on the finance. Kenya has a challenge of debt and we are wary of burdening Kenyans,” said McCarter.
The US ambassador said that he wanted to ensure that Kenya does not pay an amount higher than the actual cost of constructing the Highway before the ground braking takes place.
“We did not want to sign onto a project whose cost would turn out to be three to four times higher than the actual. We want to ensure there is an honest return on investment for Kenyans before we break ground,” he added.
The project, known as the Nairobi-Mombasa Expressway project would link Kenya’s capital with second city Mombasa, a major Indian Ocean port.
“Both sides agreed to undertake further consultations to conclude the terms of the financing agreement,” said the envoy.
The project which was signed last year between Kenya and US when Presidents Donald Trump and Uhuru Kenyatta met at the White House is expected to start any time after the June budget release.
However, doubts in the US side could see the project delayed, or even suspended.