Kenyans surprised and alarmed at cash bonanza for the Chinese contractor building the Nairobi Expressway

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THE China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), a Chinese state-owned construction company, is forecast to earn almost a billion dollars in profits over the 27 years that it will operate the new Nairobi Expressway that’s now under construction.

Details of the deal were revealed last week in parliament and published in Business Daily on Monday, prompting some degree of alarm among the public that the company is excessively profiting from the deal.

The first portion of the expressway is expected to open this year with the full road completed by 2024. CRBC is building a 27.1km portion where it will collect 35 percent of the toll fees that range between $1 and $15 depending on the size of the vehicle.

The reaction was decidedly negative on Kenyan social media and among the journalists on Business Daily’s editorial board who described CRBC’s take as ‘excessive.’ But Gyude Moore, a senior policy fellow at the Centre for Global Development in Washington and the former minister of public works in Liberia, provided an alternative view:

‘Maybe that’s what the market is pricing the infrastructure based on inherent risks. SGR freight and passenger revenues are definitely not looking promising. Kenya’s debt profile and quality of governance impose still further risks. Could those risks be priced in?’

CRBC is the same company that also built and now operates Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railway.

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