Bechtel and Kenyan government to discuss financing of $3bn highway project
American construction giant Bechtel is due to meet the Kenyan government as the two parties seek to find a financial solution to a massive highway project linking Nairobi and Mombasa.
Spanning 473km, the motorway project is estimated to be valued at around $3bn, but it is thought that Bechtel and the government have different ideas over how best to fund the construction.
The former is pushing for Kenya to contract a loan, which it says will prove better value for money than the public-private partnership model being sought by the country’s governing authorities.
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Kenya wants Bechtel to source initial funding and claim it back through charging toll fees once the road is open. However, the US firm says that will cost Kenyan taxpayers $5bn over 25 years.
The two parties are due to meet next week and agree a framework in order to get the project moving once more.
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said: “Bechtel team will be coming from 9th July to have a detailed discussion with us and other agencies. They have already done some work and we have agreed to continue that discussion.
“We will commence detailed discussion on how the financing approach will be undertaken under that project. We will be discussing modalities, financing structuring and the details for us to be clear on how to undertake this project.”
The expressway, comprising four lanes, will provide an uninterrupted connection between two of Kenya’s most economically important cities with a maximum speed of 120km/h.
217,000 extra workers needed to meet COVID-19 recovery
As the construction industry’s recovery progresses, the Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) Construction Skills Network (CSN) forecasts have led the organisation to believe the industry will reach 2019 levels of output in 2022.
The CSN says there will be an increase in the number of construction workers in “most English regions” by 2025, with demands forecasted at a 1.7% rise for the East Midlands, and a 1.4% rise for the West Midlands.
Scotland and Wales are also predicted to see a surge in demand for construction workers with a total increase of 1.4% and 0.7% respectively. The North East is the only region to see a slight decline in workforce demand at -0.1%.
Wood and interior fit-out trades among the most desirable during COVID-19
According to CSN’s forecast, the trades that are the most wanted are those of wood and interior fit-outs, with both requiring around 5,500 workers per year. Other in-demand trades include technical staff and other construction professionals, requiring 5,150 workers each year, construction managers at 3,600, and the electrical installation trade, which requires 3,400 staff per year.
There is also expected to be demand for 7,850 non-construction, office-based professionals and technical and IT support staff each year. Steve Radley, Policy Director at CITB, said: “It’s great to see construction coming back so strongly and creating lots of job opportunities.
“We need to adopt new approaches to meet these growing skills needs and deliver these quickly. We are working closely with the government and FE to build better bridges between FE and work and make apprenticeships more flexible. We are also making significant investments in supporting work experience that make it easier for employers to bring in new blood.
“We must also make sure that we invest in the skills that will drive change and meet new and growing needs such as Net Zero emissions and Building Safety. We will be announcing plans soon to tackle specific skills and occupations such as leadership and management, digital skills, and skills related to energy efficiency”, he said.