The US government has temporarily shelved funding for the proposed Ksh300 billion Nairobi-Mombasa expressway over the cost implications of the project.
US Ambassador Kyle McCarter, who is on a projects tour of the region, explained that the US was scrutinising the proposal to establish whether Kenyans would get value for their money.
“We did not want to sign onto a project whose cost would turn out to be three to four times higher than the actual. We want to ensure there is an honest return on investment for Kenyans before we break ground," McCarter stated.
The proposed road will be a dual-carriage motorway with four lanes to ease congestion and cut travel time between the two cities from the current 10 to about four hours. This will help promote trade and movement in Kenya as well as the neighboring countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC and South Sudan.
The project was set to begin any time after the reading of the budget at the end of June according to the working document produced by the ambassador.
The multi-billion project was to be actualized by an American-based firm, Bechtel, following a 2018 deal signed by Uhuru and Trump during a meeting at the White House.
“Bechtel did not lose the deal, we are still working on the finance. Kenya has a challenge of debt and we are wary of burdening Kenyans”.McCarter responded when asked whether Betchel had lost the contract to a Chinese firm.
A 2015 feasibility report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) indicated that the costly project was viable.
The envoy also spoke on the constant plundering of public funds witnessed in the country.
“Calling it corruption makes it mystical, like those behind it share the proceeds with the nation. But the truth is that it is simply taking what is not yours and that is thievery,” he commented.