NAIROBI EXPRESSWAY

Senators want toll charges for emergency vehicles scrapped

This will enable them to respond effectively to emergencies in the city that is often riddled with traffic

In Summary

•The Sh73.5 billion expressway was opened to the public mid last month.

•It was constructed by China Road and Bridge Corporation under a public-private partnership model.

The management of the newly opened Nairobi expressway needs to reconsider its decision to impose toll charges on emergency service providers such as ambulances and fire engines, senators have said.

The lawmakers said the management should scrap the fees for the emergency vehicles to enable them to respond effectively to emergencies in the city that is often riddled with traffic gridlocks.

“While the city will reap greatly from the expressway, what is of most concern is the toll fees levied upon emergency services such as ambulances and firefighters,” Nominated Senator Falhada Dekow said.

She said the expressway was meant to ease traffic congestion.

The Sh73.5 billion expressway was opened to the public mid last month.

It was constructed by China Road and Bridge Corporation under a public-private partnership model.

The road links Mlolongo to the Nakuru-Nairobi highway at Wayiaki Way-James Gichuru junction via Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Motorists pay between Sh120 and Sh1,800.

The Chinese company, through its subsidiary–Moja Expressway–is operating the road for 27 years before handing it over to the government.

Speaking in the Senate on Tuesday, Dekow asked the management and the roads authority to consider pricing models used in other developed countries.

She said in Norway, which uses a similar system, certain motorists are exempted from the fees to facilitate quick services including response to emergencies.

“In Norway, an electronic toll system similar to the system in use currently was established in conjunction with private companies under contract with Norwegian Public Roads Administration,” she said.

There, she said, a toll cordon with 19 toll plazas, has facilitated the city’s topography with the fiord to the south and large greenbelt areas to the north and to the east which charges motorists for use of the road.

However, handicapped drivers, public transport and ambulances motorists are exempted. Outbound traffic is not tolled.

“The operating costs are about 10 per cent of the total revenues. The toll collection uses automatic vehicle identification, therefore there is no need for speed reduction,” she said.

“If Kenya can borrow this pricing model, I believe emergency service providers will benefit.” 

Motorists on the Nairobi Expressway on May 12.
TWO WEEKS INTO TEST RUN: Motorists on the Nairobi Expressway on May 12.
Image: WILFRED NYANGARESI

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said policymakers in government should have exempted emergencies service from paying toll fees.

“The little respect that the government can do is to allow emergency services to use the expressway,” he said.

“There are so many emergency service providers, that I think should access the expressway and not be charged any fees.” 

Nominated Senator Naomi Waqo said despite the Nairobi Expressway being one of the major developments that have taken place in recent years, it should be used to improve the lives of its citizens.

“We expect that the designers will be able to look at it and see how they can improve it so that it can fit the needs of our people,” Waqo said.

“Nairobi is well known for traffic jams, especially during the rush hour and unless the designers seriously plan then we may not help our people.” 

 

Edited by Kiilu Damaris

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