Beleaguered motorists on Mombasa Road can breathe a sigh of relief following the completion of a new road linking the Nairobi Inland Container Depot and the Southern bypass.
Commissioned in 2018, the 3.8-kilometre road cuts through the Nairobi National Park and will largely be used by trucks collecting containers from the ICD, keeping them off sections of the Mombasa highway.
It connects the west entrance of the depot, running through the inner boundary of the park and the end forming a partial “pear-shaped” interchange with the Southern bypass.
Speaking during a tour of the road, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia described it as a critical piece of infrastructure that will ease the movement of cargo from the depot to other parts of the country.
“This infrastructure will support the depot, which is part of the SGR project. It means that cargo can come in and be taken out in what we call the last-mile, which is from the ICD to other destinations,” said Mr Macharia.
The project is jointly undertaken by the Kenya National Highways Authority, Kenya Urban Roads Authority and Kenya Railways.
The government has also constructed four roads in the Sh1 billion project that will make it easier to ferry cargo from the depot. “The first one is what we have right now that is from ICD joining the Southern bypass, which was launched a few years ago,” said the CS.
Others are Road B, which is from the depot to the Eastern bypass. Road L, which links the ICD with Road B. The last is Road 4 from the ICD, joining the Mombasa highway through Libra House.
The government and the contractor, China Road and Bridge Construction Corporation, have built a circular around the depot to decongest the area.
Before the project, trucks would queue for kilometres. The dualling of the roads has also enabled them to queue in an orderly manner.
The CS said that when the depot was opened in 2018, the operating capacity was 10 per cent but it has now jumped to 75 per cent.
“That is the optimal level. You cannot operate at 100 per cent because if you have an overflow of cargo, then there will be a problem. That is why the infrastructure around the ICD is critically important,” said Mr Macharia.
The new road will also be linked to the Nairobi Expressway. The Nairobi ICD yard and access roads project commenced on May 1, 2016, and was substantially completed and commissioned on December 16, 2017, and freight operations commenced thereafter.
Initially, plans by the government to build an access road along the boundary of Nairobi National Park drew opposition as it ate into sections of the park.
Approved the project
The National Environment Management Authority, however, approved the project. In March 2018, Nema sent a 30-day notice for submission of public comments about the proposed project. The deadline was April 28.
The Kenya Wildlife Service also gave the green light to the project, saying it had met all legal requirements.
“It has been subjected to the environmental impact assessment,” KWS acting head of communications, Ngugi Gecaga, said at the time, adding the size of land eaten into “is not much”.
Already, an SGR line is cutting through the park in what conservationists said will cause irreparable damage. It’s the oldest park in the country, gazetted in 1946 by the colonial government.
The project also involved the upgrading of facilities at the Railway Training Institute (RTI) at Sh650 million. It entailed the construction of buildings, boundary walls and access roads.
The new road will be commissioned by President Kenyatta.