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Ruto’s about-turn on Nairobi Expressway

President William Ruto has gone back on his promise not to charge Kenyans to use the Nairobi Expressway.

In fact, Ruto’s administration has, effective January 1, 2024, announced that motorists will play more to use the tolled road which runs across Nairobi’s Central Business District.

Transports Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen explained that the increased charges were as a result of a number of factors, including depreciation of the Kenyan shilling against the US dollar.

“The good thing about express way is first that the government of Kenya did not give traffic volume guarantee otherwise the taxpayer would now be paying a lot from the interest accrued and inflation plus the difference unmet by less traffic flow,” said Murkomen in a detailed statement.

“Second, the consumer has alternative route which is not tolled”

According to a Gazette Notice dated December 19, 2023, and signed by Murkomen, the new tolls apply to different sections of the expressway and are designed to streamline the toll collection process and support infrastructure development and maintenance.

According to the the breakdown of the toll charges for different sections of the Nairobi Expressway, the government said that it have increased the charges for using the Nairobi it from the current range of Sh100 to Sh310 to a new range of Sh170 to Sh500 across all the stations along the Mlolongo-Westlands route.

In the new rates, motorists entering the Expressway on Mlolongo and exiting at the SGR station and the Eastern Bypass will be required to pay Sh250 up from the current Sh100, while those exiting at the Southern Bypass will pay Sh330 up from Sh210.

On the same route, vehicles exiting at Capital Hill and Haile Selassie stations will pay Sh410 up from Sh210.

Exits at Museum Hill, The Mall and Nairobi Westland’s terminus will attract Sh500 rate up from Sh310.

The same rates will also be applicable for motorists travelling through the opposite route from the Nairobi Westlands entry terminus to the Mlolongo exit terminus.

The Sh87 billion, 27.1-kilometre road was financed and built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation under a public-private partnership model.

The new rates will be effected despite a suggestion by President Ruto during the presidential campaigns that ‘he did not understand why Kenyans should pay to use a road’.

Speaking during a town hall meeting at Serena Hotel during the presidential campaigns, Ruto said his administration will explore other ways to repay infrastructure loans other than through the imposition of toll fees on roads.

According to Ruto, toll charges implemented to meet financial obligations owed to contractors on roads such as the Nairobi Expressway that runs from Mlolongo to Westlands, ‘place a substantial tax burden on the poor’.

“You don’t charge people for using a road… We are going to deploy the highway to be available to as many people as possible so that we can remove all the spaces where there is taxation. Taxation will be taken to products, not the highway,” said Ruto.

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