The 525km Four-Lane Toll Nairobi-Mombasa Expressway Project in Kenya

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The contract for the construction of the Nairobi-Mombasa Expressway in Kenya has been awarded to Korean Overseas Infrastructure and Urban Development Corporation Africa (KIND). KIND was hired by the East African country to build the 473-km expressway after US contractor Bechtel Corp pulled out of the project.

The South Korean company has already presented a feasibility study for the project to the Kenyan government. In addition, it has agreed to undertake the high-speed highway project on a toll fee business model that was recently rejected by Bechtel.

The fallout between Kenya and the US Company

In August 2017, Bechtel signed an Sh230 billion deal for the Nairobi-Mombasa Expressway project. This paved the way for the mobilization of financing from export credit agencies in the US. However, Kenya backtracked on the deal a year later.

The government of the East African country reportedly asked Bechtel to build the highway with its own money and charge toll fees to recover the investment. The American firm, on the other hand, declined the offer. It said that the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model would inflate the cost of the project to approximately Sh1.5 trillion.

This, the company explained, was because the process would involve expensive borrowing and interest payments. It insisted on a contract model where Kenya pays for the construction of the highway. The project was initially expected to cost US$ 2.7bn.

Mombasa Nairobi Expressway Project Summary

Project length: 473km

Project Contractor: Korean Overseas Infrastructure and Urban Development Corporation Africa (KIND

Business Model: Toll Fee Road. PPP Project

Number of lanes: 4 expandable to 6

Travel Time:4 hours

Start: From Machakos Turn-Off to Mariakani

End: Mariakani

The Mombasa–Nairobi Expressway also known as the Nairobi–Mombasa Expressway or the Nairobi–Mombasa Highway is a proposed four-lane toll highway in Kenya.

The road starts at Gitaru along the Nairobi–Nakuru Highway which is approx 24km northeast of Nairobi CBD.  It continues in a southeasterly direction cutting across Ngong, Ongata Rongai, Kisaju, and Isinya. It rejoins the existing Nairobi–Mombasa Road just north of the proposed Konza city. The highway passes through nine counties to end in the city of Mombasa. It ends at the Changamwe Roundabout making it 525 kilometers long.

Upon completion, the Nairobi–Mombasa Expressway will be capable of supporting sustained traffic speeds of up to 120 kilometers per hour. It will therefore cut travel times between Nairobi, the capital and largest city of Kenya, and Mombasa, the largest seaport of the country from the current 6 to 10 hours to approximately four hours

Additionally, the road will have controlled access. It is expected to improve roadway safety and reduce logistics costs along the Mombasa-Nairobi transportation corridor. Furthermore, it will serve as “a central part of the national and regional transport system. Thus it will help promote trade and development in Kenya” and the regional neighbors. These include Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, and South Sudan.

Reported earlier

Sep 2016

US construction firm shows interest in funding Kenya’s Six-Lane highway
Kenya Thika Superhighway. A similar project is set for Nairobi-Mombasa road.

Construction of Kenya’s six-lane highway moved a notch higher after the Kenyan and US governments and a California-based construction and engineering firm Bechtel held a successful meeting.

Head of the US government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation (Opic) Elizabeth Littlefield and Bechel signed what they called a letter of interest regarding Kenya’s Six-Lane highway which is the Nairobi-Mombasa highway project on the sidelines of the US-Africa Business Forum in New York early this week.

The is one of the largest world’s largest engineering and construction companies that is have been currently involved in the financial discussion and they have a higher possibility of clinching the deal as they are well established in terms of construction using the latest technology.

Currently, the US Export-Import Bank has thrown its weight behind Bechtel to ensure that they secure investment for the 485-kilometer expressway.

The anticipated project is expected to ease up the transport situation between Kenya’s main port of Mombasa and cities throughout East Africa.

The project is expected to boost the current government’s agenda in streamlining the transport industry which is currently struggling.

“With the support of the US government agencies such as Opic and the Export-Import Bank, we can provide solutions to move this critical project forward quickly with a high standard of quality and safety,” said Andrew Patterson, Bechtel’s regional president for Africa.

The Obama administration’s move to help Bechtel secure a deal to build the road coincides with the opening in Nairobi of an Opic office.

The agency’s new regional headquarters in the Kenyan capital Nairobi will facilitate US businesses’ participation in infrastructure development throughout East Africa.

The ministry of transport announced the tender and is expedited to cost the government about 14 million dollars.

Aug 2017

Bechtel selected to build the first high-speed expressway in Kenya

Bechtel has been selected by the Kenyan National Highways Authority to build the first high-speed expressway in the country.

The new 294-mile (473-kilometer) route will greatly improve the connectivity, efficiency, and safety of road transport between Nairobi and the country’s main seaport, Mombasa, and will reduce the journey time from over 10 hours to under four hours.

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The expressway will serve as a central part of Kenya’s national transport system, helping to promote trade and development in Kenya and further into landlocked Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi.

The project quality, safety and sustainability

This project will complement the new Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to transform the 280-mile (450-kilometer) Nairobi-Mombasa corridor into an active and continuous economic zone.

“Bechtel has been working with the Government of Kenya for over two years to develop this strategic infrastructure priority project, which will support unlocking significant growth in Kenya and the region,” said Craig Albert, president of Bechtel’s global infrastructure business. “We will bring global megaproject capability and local commitment to deliver the Nairobi-Mombasa expressway to our high standards of quality, safety, and sustainability. We’ll create infrastructure and skills legacies by partnering with local companies, and suppliers, and directly employing and training Kenyans.”

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The high-speed expressway

The high-speed expressway will be one of the most important new pieces of infrastructure in the East African Community.  It will have four lanes and 19 interchanges. The expressway will become a toll road and will provide faster transit to support growth and industry. As part of the delivery of the project, Bechtel will employ over 4,000 people and provide training and capacity building. The project will also include master planning for three special economic zones along the alignment and will be focused on developing business in coordination with the new SGR and local communities.

Kenya’s wildlife and environment are critical to the country. The project will respect communities, the environment, and wildlife, focusing on reducing potential impact through the implementation of an international standard Environmental and Social Impact Assessment.

Engineering structure

The project has been structured to achieve early completion, under a fast-track delivery model, with concurrent design and construction, and with the first section, from Mombasa Road – Kyumvi to ICT Konza, targeted to open in 2019. The construction will start in 2018. US and UK export credit agencies such as the US Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), and UK Export Finance, are expected to provide financing support.

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“This contract shows continued international investor confidence in the Kenyan economy,” said Amjad Bangash, general manager for infrastructure – Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, Bechtel. “Bechtel has more than 70 years of experience building and project managing infrastructure projects in Africa and we are delighted to be working with the Government of Kenya to deliver this important expressway.”

Bechtel is a global leader in designing and constructing motorways. The company has completed more than 17,000 miles (28,000 kilometers) of highways and roads, 100 tunnels totaling some 220 miles (about 350 kilometers) in length, and 25 major bridge projects. Focused on delivering major infrastructure to connect and power communities, the company is also currently building a motorway connecting Kosovo to neighboring Macedonia.


Bechtel is one of the most respected global engineering, construction, and project management companies. Together with their customers, they deliver landmark projects that foster long-term progress and economic growth. Since 1898, they’ve completed more than 25,000 extraordinary projects across 160 countries on all seven continents. the company operates through four global businesses: Infrastructure; Nuclear, Security & Environmental; Oil, Gas & Chemicals; and Mining & Metals. The company and its culture are built on more than a century of leadership and a relentless adherence to its values, the core of which are safety, quality, ethics, and integrity. These values are what they believe, what they expect, what they deliver, and what they live.

March 2018

Construction of Nairobi-Mombasa expressway to kick off in July 2018

Construction of Nairobi-Mombasa expressway

The construction of the much anticipated Nairobi-Mombasa expressway is scheduled to kick off in July this year. The project is awarded to Bechtel, an American engineering contractor. On completion, the project is expected to be of great benefit to Kenyans and the whole country at large.

Plans for the region’s first high-speed motorway are in the final stages to pave way for actual construction work to start. The motorway measures about  473km.

The project is, however, expected to cost the US $3bn. Additionally, the Nairobi-Mombasa expressway will reduce travel time between the two Kenyan cities by up to 50%. Bechtel top officials estimate that the road project will generate nearly twice the money spent on the project over a period of 25 years.

Public-private partnership

Moreover, Kenya needs a public-private-partnership (PPP) approach to the road construction project, such that under this model, the firm will source financing and build the road, then operate it for a number of years during which it will charge motorists for its use.

Nonetheless, Bechtel is inclined toward the EPC model, advising that the alternative public-private partnership (PPP) would cost five times more at US $15bn and it will take much time to complete.

According to Transport CS James Macharia during his appearance before the National Assembly Transport Committee, the ministry is yet to settle on a model of financing the road, however, we would prefer a public-private partnership.

Plans for the Nairobi-Mombasa expressway come shortly after Kenya unveiled the Standard Gauge railway line aimed at decongesting the busy road. Furthermore, the East African country hopes that the mega infrastructure projects currently ongoing will help open up the country and boost trade.

Committed to supporting Africa’s economic growth, Bechtel opened a regional Africa office in Nairobi last year.

April 2019

Kenya to sign deal for the US $3bn Nairobi-Mombasa expressway project

Ghana begins construction of Tamale Interchange

Kenya is set to sign the US $3bn deal with the USA for the construction of the Nairobi-Mombasa expressway this month. US Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter announced the reports and said the deal will pave way for construction works to begin anytime after June.

The contract includes the development of three additional Special Economic Zones along the alignment next to strategic interchanges which will bring additional revenue to the national and county governments.

Bechtel, a US-based private construction conglomerate, won the contract in a government-to-government deal that formed part of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s discussions with President Donald Trump during his US visit last year.

Also Read:Zambia set to launch 95km Lilongwe- Kasiya-Santhe road

Nairobi-Mombasa expressway

Construction of the 473Km expressway will begin at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) along the existing Nairobi-Mombasa highway and will snake through seven Counties to end at the Changamwe roundabout in Mombasa.

The proposed project will bypass the capital city to branch off just past Konza and terminate onto the Nakuru highway in Kikuyu, design maps of the high-speed road have revealed.

Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) Director General Peter Mundinia explained that the road will have four lanes capable of supporting sustained speeds of up to 120 kilometers per hour and is expected to reduce travel time between Mombasa and Nairobi from the current 10 to four hours.

The road development which will also run parallel to the current Nairobi-Mombasa highway and will help promote trade and movement in Kenya and neighboring countries is expected to generate nearly twice the funds spent to build it over a period of 25 years and will be ready for use by 2023.

“The route will vastly improve the connectivity, efficiency, and safety of the road between Nairobi and the country’s main seaport of Mombasa,” said Peter Mundinia.

The expressway project is projected to create 500 jobs and will involve local businesses in supplying up to 100,000 tonnes of cement and 40,000 tonnes of steel expected to be used on the road.

3 thoughts on “The 525km Four-Lane Toll Nairobi-Mombasa Expressway Project in Kenya”

  1. Bechtel is a renowned road construction company in US. Lets hope that the contract starts soon as planned.

  2. This highway plan raises concerns: looks like another expensive “vanity project”. It will compete with SGR for truck traffic, possibly turning both into bad investments.

    The good news is that Bechtel is a very reliable engineering company. As such, the likelihood is good for an “on-time, on-budget” project. Good luck!

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