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Government plans to expand the main Nairobi-Mombasa highway

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government plans to expand the Nairobi-Mombasa highway from the current single lane to six lane modern highway and bids are likely to be invited soon, an official said on Sunday.

State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu told a news conference in Nairobi that already a U.S. investor has expressed its interest in the Nairobi-Mombasa Expressway which is expected to ease traffic jams in Nairobi.

"I can confirm U.S. investor interest in this Nairobi-Mombasa Expressway. Among the partners involved are Bechtel Corp., the United States’ largest construction and civil engineering firm, which will be supported in this endeavor by the United States’ Import-Export Bank and OPIC," he said.

The U.S. Export-Import Bank is simultaneously working with Bechtel to secure investment for the 485-kilometre expressway which is intended to speed up commerce and travel between Kenya’s main port of Mombasa and cities throughout East Africa.

OPIC’s role in the emerging deal would be to insure Bechtel against breach of contract.

"We are hopeful that these discussions will bear fruit, and that Kenya will soon enjoy the new infrastructure on the Nairobi-Mombasa route," Esipisu said.

"More importantly, though, this is a show of continued massive international investor confidence in our economy and our country," he added.

According to Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia the government plans to build the road through a Public Private Partnership.

The 485km Mombasa-Nairobi highway is crucial for trade in the region since it connects the port to Nairobi and onward to the hinterland markets, including landlocked Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

More than 90 percent of goods landing at Mombasa port—one of the largest and busiest ports in Africa—are transported over the road and over a parallel railway line, underlining the importance of the road.

Nearly all of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan’s imported goods reach their destinations via this road, making it an important regional economic asset.



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