Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen sought to clarify his earlier statement on the government imposing toll charges on major roads.
In an opinion piece published on Friday, February 2, Murkomen said that the impending levies will only apply to roads yet to be constructed.
“I didn’t say that we would toll existing. New tolling schemes will consider affordability, equity and the potential impact on different segments of our society,” Murkomen said.
“Road Maintenance Levy Fund (RMLF)- Ksh68 billion this year-are insufficient to maintain roads in the country,” he added.
This is because some of the RMLF collections is allocated to the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA), which is not enough to maintain trunk roads, and for the first time, they have developed potholes.
At the same time, the CS said this situation resulted in a large network of orphaned roads.
Public private partnership projects
Murkomen stated that the only way to build modern infrastructure is through the public-private partnership (PPP) model.
Additionally, he mentioned some of the benefits linked to PPP projects. Among them is access to financing, allowing the government to get private capital for road projects and reducing the burden on public finances.
PPPs also exploit private-sector expertise and innovation to deliver higher-quality infrastructure projects more efficiently and on schedule.
He stated that the only way to deliver critical arteries such as the Rironi-Mau Summit Road and other essential links was by the government becoming more creative.
Murkomen stated that Kenya’s roads sector faces a severe funding crisis stemming from policies put in place by the previous regime.
“When the Jubilee administration came to office in 2013, it announced an ambitious plan to build 10,000km of roads. Laudable as this plan was, it did not have a maintenance com- ponent.”
Murkomen Announces introduction of highway charges
During the launch of the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) 2023 to 2027 strategic plan, the CS had stated that the government would introduce highway charges for successful expansion of roads in the country.
“We must be innovative as a country if we are to ensure a quality and sustainable road network. The current funding models, including the Roads Maintenance Levy, will no longer be sufficient.
He stated that the fuel levy has remained constant at Sh18 per liter, a figure that was set in 2016 when the prices of fuel and length of road network were significantly lower.
“The Public-Private Partnership model remains our key strategy in delivering cutting-edge infrastructural projects. We must find ways of tolling our main highways and transfer the benefits to Kenyans,” stated Murkomen.
During the event, he announced roads that will be affected including Athi River to Namanga Road, Galleria, to Rongai to Ngong and Karen Road, as well as Kiambu Road.
Additionally, he noted that there will be provisions for those who will not be able to afford the toll fees to these roads.
Murkomen’s remarks drew widespread criticism.
The Matatu Welfare Association (MWA) rejected the tolling systemarguing that the plan would impose double taxation on motorists.
“The introduction of the toll will be challenging and expensive, especially for Public Service Vehicles (PSV) and other motorists. We are already paying VAT on fuel which is why Former President Mwai Kibaki scrapped the toll and replaced it with the fuel levy,” said the Matatu Welfare Association Chairman, Dickson Mbugua.
On his part, COFEK Secretary General Stephen Mutoro said the proposal was against President William Ruto’s plan.
“Mr Murkomen is basically going against the pledge of President William Ruto on not tolling public roads … and he knows what is doing is an insult to injury on Kenyans.”