Nakuru readies for city status with grand infrastructure plan

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui speaks when he met KeNHA board of directors over the dualling of the Rironi-Mau Summit section of the Nairobi-Nakuru-Eldoret highway.

Photo credit: Eric Matara | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The four projects include a Sh600 million ultra-modern market, a modern bus terminus, and a four-kilometre bypass.
  • The national government also plans to build an elevated highway.
  • The Sh600 million ultra-modern market will be constructed next to a new bus terminus.
  • The newly-built Kunste and the Njoro turn-off interchanges have spruced up the face of Nakuru town.

Nakuru town is set to undergo a major transformation following a multi-billion-shilling deal between the national government and the county government as the town inches closer to a city status.

These projects, the Nation has learnt, could drastically change the face of Rift Valley’s capital.

The four projects include a Sh600 million ultra-modern market, a modern bus terminus, and a four-kilometre bypass that will run from Nakuru's Free Area to the lower side of Nakuru town near Kingdom Seekers Church, before re-joining the Nakuru-Eldoret highway.

The national government also plans to build an elevated highway from the place near State House Nakuru to Eveready, along the busy Nakuru-Eldoret highway.

"Nakuru's infrastructure map is set for a major redraw in the coming months, with a series of mega- projects lined up. We are partnering with the national government in major projects that will make Nakuru town a world class city,” revealed Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui in an interview.

Ultra-modern market

The Sh600 million ultra-modern market will be constructed next to a new bus terminus sitting on a 10-acre piece of land along Nakuru's Landhies Road, which currently hosts a slaughter house and a fire station.

The Sh600 million is a grant from the national government.

A source at the State Department of Housing and Urban Development Monday revealed that the construction of the multi-million-shilling market will begin next week.

"The market will be constructed by the national government and already tendering for the project has been done. The contractor will be on site next week to begin work," said the source.

Next to the market will be a bus terminus with a capacity of at least 450 vehicles.

The bypass and the elevated highway will be constructed simultaneously with the dualling of the Rironi-Nakuru-Mau Summit highway.

The project will involve construction of a four-kilometre elevated highway through Nakuru town.

Road dualling

On October 1, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed a Sh160 billion deal with a French consortium for the dualling of the Rironi-Nakuru-Mau Summit highway.

In the project that will begin soon, the road will be built by a French company and overseen by the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) through a public-private partnership (PPP) model that will involve tolls.

The President signed the deal in France with the VINCI Consortium comprising VINCI Highways SAS, Meridian Infrastructure Africa Fund (Miaf), and VINCI Concessions SAS.

The current two-lane highway will be expanded into a four-lane dual carriageway that will be further expanded to six lanes on the busiest sections.

The highway is one of the largest PPP projects in Eastern Africa.

The construction of the Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit six-lane dual carriageway is expected to de-congest the existing highway and Nakuru town and enhance efficiency of cargo transport to western Kenya and other East African countries.

Most important road

The Nairobi-Nakuru-Eldoret highway, which is part of the Northern Corridor, is the most important road to western Kenya and the artery that connects Kenya and the landlocked countries of Uganda, Southern Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi.

The road is used for transporting most of the west-bound cargo that originates from the Port of Mombasa and Nairobi.

The nearly 233km project will include the strengthening and widening of the existing Rironi-Mai Mahiu-Naivasha road to become a seven-metre carriageway with two-metre shoulders on both sides.

The Rironi-Mai Mahiu-Naivasha road serves the Naivasha Inland Container Depot (ICD) and the proposed Industrial Park in Naivasha.

The expansion of the Rironi-Nakuru-Mai Mahiu part of the Northern Corridor has been necessitated by high congestion along the busy route.

Already, the newly-built Kunste and the Njoro turn-off interchanges have spruced up the face of Nakuru town, as it seeks to acquire a city status and also eased the traffic load along the busy highway.

A similar interchange is also complete at the Mau Summit-Kericho turn-off along the same highway.

The construction of the Sh2.7 billion projects was funded by the World Bank and supervised by Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA).

According to KeNHA, the interchanges that were constructed by the China Railways Engineering Group were meant to reduce traffic snarl-ups along the route as well as reduce transport costs.

“The projects were part of the authority’s activities aimed at improving the state of highways in the country. They were also meant to give residents, business people and travellers a sigh of relief from years of perennial traffic gridlocks along the busy highway,” said KeNHA's Assistant Director for Corporate Communications Charles Njogu.

Boost development

"The new road projects are set to be a boost to requisite development stimulus through reduced transport costs and travel times, reductions in vehicle operating costs and increased speeds,” he added.

The interchanges along the Northern Corridor are part of the Vision 2030 key projects aimed at helping to cut the hours wasted in traffic jams on most roads in the country.

Motorists along the Nairobi-Nakuru-Eldoret highway have frequently blamed KeNHA for heavy traffic jams along the road.

Nyahururu is known for horticulture, floriculture and vegetable farming while parts of Nakuru County including Njoro, Molo, Mau Narok, Kuresoi North and South areas produce dairy products, potatoes and vegetables.

Construction of the interchanges started in 2016 and was completed early last year.

With the proposal to elevate Nakuru to a city status already before the Senate Committee on Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations, Governor Kinyanjui’s administration has already moved to ensure there is order in the CBD.

Last month, Kinyanjui banned matatus from Nakuru town's Central Business District even as plans to construct the modern terminus are under way.

The county government has also kicked off redesigning of Nakuru town in a masterplan that seeks to improve its face.

The plan will see street lights installed, slums upgraded and buildings’ aesthetic value improved.

Physical planning

Governor Kinyanjui revealed that the devolved unit has begun physical planning for the entire town with eyes set on city status.

“My administration is leaving nothing to chance to ensure Nakuru gets the city status. We are also in the process of beautifying the town. All public parks, including Nyayo Gardens, are undergoing a major rehabilitation,” said Governor Kinyanjui.

According to Governor Kinyanjui, his administration jointly with the World Bank plans to upgrade the town’s informal settlement areas.

Informal settlement areas targeted include Kaptembwo, which is the biggest in Nakuru town, with a population of more than 100,000 residents.

Others include Kivumbini, Lake View, Kwa Rhonda, Flamingo, Kaloleni and Bondeni.

Other issues the county government seeks to address include general planning of the town, garbage disposal, street lighting, eco-friendly amenities, and sanitation facilities.

Last week, Governor Kinyanjui inaugurated the Nakuru and Naivasha Municipal boards, also key milestones towards achieving a city status.

The county administration also last year directed owners of buildings in the town to repaint them and ensure they are well maintained as part of the ongoing beautification project.

The directive could also see the entire face of structures, especially within the town’s Central Business District, revamped to pave the way for modern buildings, according to a source from the county government.