President Ruto Halts Uhuru’s KSh 160b Mau Summit Highway Project

President William Ruto has halted construction of the Sh160 billion Mau Summit highway, over concerns over tolling fees.

The 233-kilometer Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit Toll Road, which was initiated by retired President Uhuru Kenyatta, has been awaiting President Ruto’s approval.

sources close to the project told Business Daily that the Kenya Kwanza administration has been cagey about the tolling of the road which they fear will roil the economy of President Ruto’s Rift Valley backyard.

Other sources disclosed that one of the major sticky issues has been the absence of an alternative route for motorists who did not want to pay toll fees, as is the case with the Nairobi Expressway.

“During the Naivasha-Nakuru stakeholder meeting, one of the most contentious was finding an alternative route for users who did want to pay for the road,” an anonymous source said.

The construction of the road had been slated to start in September 2021.

In September last year visiting French Minister of State for Development, Francophonie and International Partnerships, Ms Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, said it was up to Dr Ruto to decide when works on the Northern Corridor road would begin.

“We have to resume talks, obviously, but it would be something important and would be nicer for the new administration to speak with the companies,” she said.

“It [discussion] has been slowed by the electoral period, but now we are ready, and all the companies and financiers are waiting to put money into it, but they are waiting for Kenya to resume its part.”

The improvement of the road infrastructure was seen as a critical intervention that was required to jump-start the economy.

The project aims to reduce traffic congestion on the northern corridor, a major boost for motorists plying the route.

The 233-kilometre contract was awarded to a consortium of three French firms in 2020.

The group comprises Vinci Highways SAS, Meridian Infrastructure Africa Fund, and Vinci Concessions SAS.

The consortium is mandated with overseeing that the road is expanded into a four-lane dual carriageway through a Public-Private Partnership model.

According to the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA), owners of saloon cars will pay KSh 6 per kilometre to use the road, while heavy commercial vehicles will pay up to KSh 24.

A motorist who drives a saloon car for the entire 175 kilometres between Rironi and Mau Summit; would pay KSh 1,050.

However, KeNHA noted that the toll tariff is based on a past study and is still being refined before they get to the final toll.