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US denies politics in lucrative road deal in Kenya

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The US has denied claims that a Sh300 billion road deal in Kenya awarded to Bechtel was political.

Through its Kenyan embassy the US has also rejected claims that no competitive bidding was done for the 473km-long expressway between Nairobi and Mombasa.

A local newspaper had raised concerns over the road deal in Kenya saying the US firm “was handed the project on a silver platter.” The Kenyan newspaper also questioned the timing of the contract saying it was announced three days to the August 8 general elections.

Questions have also been raised as to whether the American firm was the cheaper option.

Some critics of the road deal in Kenya have shown concern that the deal was a single-source procurement of an EPC contractor (whereby the original plan was for a PPP tender), and claim Chinese firms could have provided a cheaper alternative. Chinese firms  are currently undertaking a significant number of infrastructure projects in Kenya.

According to the newspaper when announcing government projects of such magnitude, a press conference from the Ministry of Transport would normally be held.

It claims there was also no announcement from State House.

Read:Tanzania starts legal action against ‘rogue’ UK contractor

But the US says discussion on the Nairobi-Mombasa expressway has been under development for two years to “bring best value.”

“The US embassy does not and will not give political favours for commercial deals. On Kenyan election 2017, we’ve been and will continue to be strictly neutral.” the embassy tweeted on September 13 a day after the story was published.

Kenya road agency KeNHA’s  has also defended the move to award the contract to Bechtel saying the credentials of the US based firm in carrying out large infrastructure projects was second to none.

Bechtel was awarded the contract to construct a new highway in July contrary to earlier plans to widen the existing road.

Upon completion, the project will give Kenyans a fourth travel option. One being the existing road, the other being the SGR and the third air transport. It will also be a key infrastructure project in the East Africa Community. Construction of the expressway is set for 2018.

1 USD is equivalent to 103 Kenya shillings

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