Today, President Uhuru is expected to launch the start of the construction of the JKIA-Westlands expressway project.
Like many of the Jubilee projects, from a PR perspective, the expressway offers many benefits for the average Kenyan commuter and promises to cut traffic in the gridlocked CBD by keeping Westlands bound traffic away from the congested CBD roads. So far great.
But that is the only good news really, an idea for a project that will cut traffic down. But aside from that unfortunately there is nothing but bad news.
The project is funded and built by China. So again like many such projects, the Kenyan taxpayer is screwed right from the beginning. The materials for construction and a lot of the construction cost will go back to China without any taxes being remitted to the Kenyan government.
The 18.586km project was estimated to cost 51 billion, that’s an average of 2.7billion per kilometer. Mighty expensive right?
How will a broke Kenya pay for the project? There is a proposal in the works to introduce toll stations along the route. And you guessed right, just like the Chinese now manage the SGR, it is expected the contractor will also manage these toll stations until their debt is paid.
In other words, the government is creating job opportunities and great returns on investments to China at the expense of Kenyans, and these same broke Kenyans are in turn forced to use the services to repay back the debt.
Aside from the many reasons laid out as to why a flyover that long does not merit the cost of investment, the timing for the project considering Kenya’s economy could not have been any worse.
The government is seeking to borrow more than 2 trillions in the next two years to fund other programs including repayment of public debt that is now way above the limits that were previously set, and thank someone for the handshake, those limits are being increased daily even though the economy is not growing.
This is yet another project that would hurt the economy more than benefit it, just like the SGR and the many dams and stadiums that are about to be built sometime.