Nairobi — The World Bank has advanced a $300 million to the Kenyan government towards refurbishment of the country's dilapidated urban roads.
The funds will go towards financing the proposed Nairobi Metropolitan Transport Authority under the country's Vision 2030 development blueprint.
The funds will come in handy especially at a time when urban transport in Kenya has seriously deteriorated with the government's concentration mostly on major highways which have received a major facelift over the last seven years.
According to Kenya's Finance Minister Njeru Githae, the loan terms allow Kenya to repay within 30 years with a grace period of 10 years at an interest rate of 0.75 per cent.
The project dubbed as Urban Transport Improvement Project (NUTRIP) is aimed at decongesting Nairobi by eliminating unnecessary roundabouts and expanding the existing highways to meet the growing number of motorists and other road users.
Kenya currently has a population of over 40 million with United Nations Population reports indicating that this this could grow to 50 million by the year 2030. This situation poses a serious strain on the country's infrastructure especially in the urban areas. It is projected that by 2030 37 per cent of the population, about 20 million people will be living in urban centres.
The project will be implemented by five agencies dealing with issues of infrastructure in Kenya. These will be Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha), Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura), Kenya Railways Corporation, Ministry of Roads, and Ministry of Transport.
Among the major beneficiaries of the improved transport service will be local and international users of the Kenya's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and the feeder roads leading to the facility are among the areas earmarked by the project.
Other urban centers to benefit from funding include Meru and Kisumu where by-passes will be constructed to ease traffic in the central business districts of these fast growing towns.
Githae said the main gateway to Nairobi city, Uhuru Highway will be upgraded into a two decker standard with grade separation of all major junctions up to Waiyaki Way which handles most of the traffic leaving Nairobi to the Rift Valley and other western parts of the country.