According to Meshack Kidenda, the Authority’s Director General, the tender will most likely be awarded later next year after Parliament sanctions the mechanisms for contracting and charging for users of the superhighway.
“Despite the resistance from motorists, the Authority is pushing ahead with the plans to raise over Sh1 billion needed annually to maintain the highway,” Mr Kidenda said.
The level of upkeep needed for the superhighway, said Mr Kidenda, cannot be met by the proceeds from the Road Levy Maintenance Fund for which motorist pay Sh3 for every litre of petrol.
In 2011 the Road Levy Fund raised Sh25 billion, nearly four times the Sh6.6 billion raised in 2001 when the government introduced the levy.
“Because it is a public private partnership and the law has not yet gone through Parliament, we are seeking some clearance from Treasury (before placing the adverts),” he said.
A track record in profitability managing big public facilities for a fee will be one of the key determinants on who will be picked – leaving the field for local firms fairly limited to companies offering car park management for large utilities such as airports.
Thika Road toll will consist of an electronic toll management system that will be placed along the route for easy revenue collection from motorists. Charges on a vehicle will depend on several factors, including the size of the motor vehicle.
Regular road users such as residents who have to access their workplaces and homes through the highway will be given special receipts exempting them from the toll or granting them subsidies.
Thika Superhighway, which was constructed by China Shangli, Sino Hydro and China Wuyi at a cost of Sh31 billion was commissioned last month by President Mwai Kibaki.
The highway was initially expected to cost Sh27 billion but the budget escalated as a result of a weak shilling and additional works such as the three lanes on Juja Road which were initially planned as double lanes.