A roads agency has embarked on a new plan to broaden the role of the private sector in the maintenance of roads and street lights.
In an interview Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) Director General Meshack Kidenda said they are exploring ways to partner with players in the private sector to finance the maintenance of roads.
“The private sector players would then recoup their investments from any revenues derived from the road usage in the form of advertising rights and tolling,” Mr Kidenda said.
The move comes months after Parliament approved the Public Private Partnership Bill, triggering a bigger appetite for government deals among the private sector.
Governance and Public Private Partnership (PPP) consultant, Mohammed Nyaoga, said Nairobi County should consider delegating the management of the city’s feeder roads to private firms in order to keep up with the pace of wear and tear that has left most roads in a mess.
“Funding and planning our roads is a major challenge. The feeder roads in various parts of the city are tattered. It is important that we find other ways of funding these roads,” Mr Nyaoga said in an interview.
One of the models he is proposing in the management of city roads and those in other urban areas is the outsourcing of repair and maintenance work, landscaping and traffic lights management to private firms.
These firms would in turn put up their adverts, for which they will not pay for an agreed period without having to pay the government or county authorities.
The process will involve mapping out and identifying specific roads within the city or other urban areas in the country for maintenance.
In countries like South Africa, the government or local authorities engage private firms in the construction and or management of public infrastructure projects.
The firms then recoup their investments by tolling in the case of road projects or concessions if it is railway services, for an agreed period.
Old Mutual, has for instance, been a key player in such projects in South Africa.
Mr Nyaoga, who is also an advocate, thinks the model he proposing, although new to the country, could offer a new lease of life to Kenya’s dilapidated infrastructure, particularly feeder roads.
Principal Secretary for Infrastructure in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, Eng John Mosonik, while admitting the intricacies involved in the process of engaging the private sector in public projects, said government has selected key roads projects in Nairobi for piloting.
“We are trying to operationalise the system by working on the regulation processes. After that, the line ministries should be able to set up their PPP units to implement,” Mr Mosonik said.
Establishment of uniform standards on quality and operational procedures need to be incorporated from the start in engaging private sector players in management of public roads, says Mr, Nyaoga, adding that he is already in talks with the Nairobi County on the adoption of the model.