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Moving from fuel levy to green road user charges


Trucks drive along the Miritini- Magongo road in Mombasa which is in bad shape as Motorists call for action from the Government in this photo taken on May 31, 2023. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG

Electric mobility is gaining prominence globally as a strategy to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality and decrease the dependency on fossil fuels.

The Paris Declaration on Electro-mobility and Climate Change and Call for Action requires partners to make a decisive effort towards sustainable transport electrification — including that at least 20 percent of all road vehicles be electrically powered by 2030.

Transport contributes a significant amount of the current global energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and it is estimated to grow faster than any other energy end-use sector.

Closer home, President William Ruto is actively championing this shift and has been resolute in expediting the integration of sustainable alternatives while transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

The government has further demonstrated commitment by aligning with global initiatives to address climate change such as the signing of the COP26 Agreement and by formulating strategies to effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy (2020), Kenya’s target over the five years to 2025, is to expand the percentage of electric vehicle imports from zero percent to five percent of total vehicles imported into Kenya each year.

These efforts notwithstanding, Kenya’s electric mobility sector is still in its nascent stages with an estimated 671 electric motor vehicles in total.

Stakeholders within the energy sector are actively implementing the required infrastructure to accommodate the growing number of electric vehicles.

With this new norm, the fuel levy is the main source of funding for road maintenance and may experience a decline as Kenyans transition towards more energy-efficient vehicles.

To Kenya Roads Board (KRB), this presents significant challenges and opportunities. Since the enactment of the Road Maintenance Levy Act in 1993, the country has heavily relied on the funds generated through the fuel levy for road maintenance.

Over the last five years, the board has successfully raised Sh405 billion, 99 percent of which were proceeds of fuel levy.

This substantial funding has facilitated the maintenance of 206,267 kilometres of roads. Looking ahead to the next plan period 2023-2027, the Board has set an even more ambitious target to raise Sh512 billion towards the maintenance of 220,000 kilometres of roads representing a 26 percent increase.

This will ensure that our roads receive adequate maintenance to provide optimal levels of service.

So, how does KRB ensure the sustainability of the road network? In the recently launched five-year strategic plan 2023-2027, we have outlined the alternative funding sources that align with the new future of e-mobility.

KRB will engage in strategic discussions with the government, relevant stakeholders and experts to devise innovative solutions that will enable adapting to the changing landscape ensuring roads remain safe, efficient and well maintained.

One of the things we are considering is transitioning from fuel levy to smart road user charges that encompass both fuel-based and hybrid and electric vehicles.

This approach would ensure that all road users contribute their fair share towards maintenance of roads.

To further bridge the funding gap, the board will raise Sh150 billion through infrastructure bonds.

Through effective use of these funds, KRB aims to increase the road network in good and fair condition from 70 percent in 2023 to 84 percent end of 2027.

To achieve this, the board will expand its oversight capacity and deploy auditors to regions to ensure a robust monitoring and evaluation of road works implementation by our roads agencies thereby guaranteeing value for money.

We shall continue to demand more accountability for every shilling allocated from road user charges to ensuring that our road infrastructure is optimal.

As we confront the emerging reality of e-mobility, KRB is firmly dedicated to adopting proactive measures to address the potential implications of road maintenance sustainability.

We will give priority to developing strategic partnerships with key stakeholders in the government and energy sectors ensuring that we are ready to embrace the challenges.

Additionally, we will continue to explore diverse sources of funding to secure the long-term sustainability of our road infrastructure for the benefit of taxpayers.

The writer is the director-general of, the Kenya Roads Board.


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