Kenya’s major roads may face worse deterioration as the state agencies face huge funding gaps to maintain infrastructure.
The funding gap has seen the government dice with sources to maintain the increasing length of new roads with several proposals on the table.
Both proposals to have toll stations on major roads and a move to tap on the low fuel prices and generate billions to keep highways in shape are still under debate.
Kenya Roads Board General Manager Rashid Mohamed told Nation that the funding short fall is widening every year as more new roads are incorporated in the government plan.
“Annually, we are talking about a Sh20 billion backlog in roads maintenance budget. Remember the fuel levy has been constant since 2006 while we continue to build more roads, inflation pressures have increased and the cost of construction gone up. At this rate we may end up with so many roads in bad state and the budget will be too much to spare,” Mr Mohamed said.
The roads agency estimates that Kenya has Sh400 billion in total funding requirement backlog to carry out road maintenance across the country.
National highways administered by the Kenya National Highway Authority is said to be worst hit by the funding gap.
A proposal to tap on the global oil prices windfall by stabilising pump prices and creating a float –in tax to be used in road maintenance is yet to receive attention in government circles since January.
The scheme by State Department for Infrastructure targets to source more than Sh60 billion annually in levies through a Sh90 and Sh85 per litre freeze on the prices of petrol and diesel respectively and use the extra shillings from price falls below these limits for construction of new roads and maintenance of existing ones.
“If the determined retail price (by ERC) falls below this threshold, then the consumers would pay an additional levy on petroleum fuels to make up the difference. As world oil prices fall, the levy would rise. Conversely, as the world oil prices rise, the levy would fall. When world oil prices rise above the floor, the levy would be zero,” read the proposal addressed to National Treasury Principal secretary Kamau Thuge and copied to Kenya Roads Board Executive director Jacob Ruwa.
The plan, if implemented will raise over Sh60 billion annually should the current price fall continue to ERC’s monthly revision of Sh80 per litre. This is inclusive of the Sh12 per litre already being levied currently.
The extra three shilling fuel levy set aside for road annuity fund will only generate Sh8 billion out of the Sh54 billion needed to construct the first 2000 kilometers under the annuity roads plan.
The road annuity fund is set aside for mostly rural roads leaving urban areas to be worst affected by worsening roads.