An artist's impression of the Nairobi-Mau Summit toll highway. [Photo/ Courtesy/NMG]
An artist's impression of the Nairobi-Mau Summit toll highway. [Photo/ Courtesy/NMG]

Timelines for delivery of the Mau Summit Expressway have been blurred, with the project rocked by legal battles over the cancellation of a construction supervision tender.

Construction on the 233-kilometre highway is already off-schedule, having originally been slated to begin in September 2021. The project is now set to experience further delays.

Two foreign firms, Spain’s Technica Y Proyectos in consortium with Gibb Africa Ltd  moved to the Administrative Review Board on Monday, January 10.  The firm represented by the law firm Kihara & Wayne Advocates believes that it was unfairly denied the tender.

The firm noted that it had attained the highest combined score in the evaluation process. They accuse KenHa of breaching the law by cancelling the tender for an independent expert to supervise the construction of the road.

They went before the board after being informed by the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) of the cancellation. Another bidder, Korea Express Corporation (KEC), Korea Consultants International Company ltd (KIC) & Apec Consortium ltd also challenged the cancellation arguing that termination does not satisfy the requirements of the law.

KenHa based the termination on grounds that the evaluation process was invalidated by the lapse of the statutory period. The authority explained that the delay was occasioned by dissenting opinions among the evaluation committee members.

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The Spanish firm, however, maintains that KeNHA should have completed the evaluation process strictly under the request for proposals.  They cited the Nairobi Expressway project, observing that the evaluation process went on for much longer, exceeding the validity period of proposals.

“That the first respondent (KeNHA) by terminating the procurement has failed to promote and enforce transparency, effective management and accountability contrary to section 44(2)(e) if the Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Act, 2015,” they stated

The other bidder, Korea Express Corporation (KEC), Korea Consultants International Company ltd (KIC) & Apec Consortium ltd, questioned the preparation of an evaluation report by the committee.

“The aforesaid letter of notification of the termination is vague, and unclear as to whether the evaluation committee had prepared an evaluation report containing of the evaluation and comparison of the tenders,” they stated in court documents.

The firms want KeNHA compelled to complete the process and award the tender.

The road is to be constructed  by the Rift Valley Highway Company — a consortium comprising a French concessions and construction firm Vinci Concessions, Vinci Highways and Meridian Infrastructure Africa Fund.

The Ksh160 Billion project formed a key part of the discussion when President Uhuru Kenyatta met his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in Paris in July 2021. The Rironi-Nakuru-Mau Summit road entails widening of 175km of the highway between Rironi and Mau Summit by turning it into a four lane dual carriageway “and in due course its further development into a six lane carriageway in sections depending upon traffic volumes”.

The scope of work also involves widening of the existing 57.8 kilometer single carriageway of the A8-South highway between Rironi and Naivasha via Mai Mahiu.

It will also include the installation of an electronic toll collection system to enable the financier recoup its investment.

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