A new law may spell tougher times for motorists as the government locks in on new ways to cover tax gaps.
Members of Parliament are pushing for the legislation to be approved before May setting the stage for the introduction of the fees by July 1, 2020.
The proposed bill would usher in the imposition of toll fees on major roads and the establishment of a toll fund.
According to a report by the Business Daily on February 2, 2020, some of the roads that will be subject to these fees include the Nairobi-Nakuru, Nairobi-Mombasa, Nairobi-Thika and the Nairobi Southern Bypass.
A section of Nairobi-Thika highway.
The new charges could be counted as a new layer of taxation as motorists already pay a fuel levy and a road maintenance levy.
The levy, which is charged at Ksh 18 per litre of diesel, was introduced in the 1990s together with Road Maintenance levy to replace the toll fees of the 90s.
When road tolling was conceptualised by the developed world, it was intended to serve as a form of taxation through which the government could cover the costs of road construction and maintenance.
The reintroduction of toll fees in the country came in the wake of the Ksh 59 billion double decker road that was launched in October 2019.
The road, that is set to link Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to the Nairobi Nakuru Highway is to be financed under a public-private partnership (PPP).
According to the CS for transport, James Macharia, investors relied on a promise that a toll funds would be put in place to partner in the project.
“We attracted investors who have committed to build road infrastructure including the expressway because we promised a tolling regime and a tolling fund in place,” stated Macharia.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure James Macharia. Photo undated.
As of July 30, 2019, the government had proposed charges between Ksh 1,458 and Ksh 7,290 to use the Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit road.
Motorists were also set to pay between Ksh 111 and Ksh 557 to use the JKIA to Westland Expressway that starts in Mlolongo and terminates in Westland.
There has been significant push back against the fees with citizens asking that the government offer alternative routes for those who were unable to pay the proposed toll fees.