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Lobby group takes action over planned reintroduction of road toll fees

The reintroduction of road toll fees will see motorists dig deeper into their pockets.

Cofek Secretary General Stephen Mutoro

The Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) has petitioned the National Assembly to reject a new law that seeks to reintroduce the payment of toll fees in Kenya.

Cofek argued that the Public Finance Management (National Road Toll Fund) Regulations 2021 did not have sufficient public participation before it was approved by the National Assembly Committee on Delegated Legislation.

"The said regulations fatally fail to meet the threshold of public participation as envisaged under article 10 of the constitution. Road tolls are discriminatory, especially where options do not exist," Cofek Secretary General Stephen Mutoro said.

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The new regulations await the approval of the house and will pave way for the creation of a National Road Toll Fund.

The legislation gives the Transport Cabinet Secretary the authority to declare any road or section of a road as a toll road, including a bridge or tunnel on a public route.

According to the National Treasury, the introduction of toll fees is intended for roads that have high vehicle traffic or high social and environmental impact.

The decision on whether and how to toll a road will be independent of decisions on how to finance, build, operate and maintain that road.

This means that both new (green-field) and existing roads (brownfields) can be subject to tolling programmes, always providing that these are demonstrated to be both economically and financially feasible and their social and environmental impacts are shown to be sustainable,” Treasury wrote to Parliament.

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The Nairobi-Nakuru road, Nairobi-Mombasa road, Nairobi-Thika road, and Nairobi's Southern Bypass are among the highways where motorists may soon start paying if the regulations are passed by a committee of the whole house.

Roads such as Jogoo, Lang'ata, and Ngong in Nairobi may also be targeted.

Currently, only the Nairobi Expressway has been officially categorised as a toll road.

Treasury also told MPs that passing the new regulations will free up more than Sh162 billion for the building of the Nairobi - Mau Summit road.

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The establishment of National Roads Toll Fund…will facilitate the mobilization, off-balance sheet, of over Sh162 billion in road development funds, and the operation and maintenance of the Nairobi to Mau Summit Highway as a Public-Private Partnership toll road for 30 years, in pristine condition, and a return to the public of an asset with residual economic life in terms of the contracted obligations under the PPP agreement for the project,” Treasury CAS Nelson Gaichuhie explained.

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