Nairobi’s first elevated highway to ease traffic

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia at a past function this year. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Should the financiers agree on the deal, construction of the highway may start later this year or in early 2017, officials said.
  • Kenha Director-General Peter Mundinia said there are other projects in Mombasa, Nakuru and Eldoret meant to ease congestion.

Travellers to and from Kenya’s largest airport will have a shorter commute time, if the World Bank and the African Development Bank agree to finance the construction of the first double-decker highway in Nairobi.

At an Infrastructure Summit in Nairobi on Monday, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said the road is part of a three-phase project planned to ease congestion in the city.

“It will be an expressway, elevated all the way from the airport. We have commitments from the AfDB and the World Bank. We just need to actualise the agreement,” Mr Macharia said.

The carriageway, meant to cost about Sh38 billion, is to be put up in three stages. It will begin as an elevated thoroughfare from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to Likoni Road near Ole Sereni hotel, a distance of about seven kilometers.

It will then flow from Likoni Road to the James Gichuru Road junction on Waiyaki Way in Westlands before proceeding to the Nairobi-Nakuru highway at Rironi in its third phase.

According to the minister, preparations for the third phase between the James Gichuru junction near ABC Place and Rironi have already started after a contract was given to China Wu Yi Company.

The Chinese also built the Thika Superhighway, which cost Sh32 billion.

The World Bank had initially agreed to finance the expansion of the road between JKIA and Westlands but pulled the plug back in 2011, citing the involvement of an Austrian contractor previously blacklisted by the bank.

Should the financiers agree on the deal, construction of the highway may start later this year or in early 2017, officials said.

“It is not a dream, it is not a concept. It is happening,” Mr Macharia said.

But those who will use the road, added Mr Macharia, may have to be charged a fee of up to Sh1,000. The toll idea was also endorsed by President Uhuru Kenyatta, who told the summit it could be an alternative to repay the cost of the construction.

The road will add to the more than 1,300km of highways already built since 2013, according to the Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha), at the cost of Sh140 billion.

Kenha Director-General Peter Mundinia said there are other projects in Mombasa, Nakuru and Eldoret meant to ease congestion.

In Nairobi, for instance, Kenha will turn the road from Athi River to the Machakos turn-off into a dual carriageway, upgrading that stretch to the status of Mombasa Road from Nairobi.

Kenha also says bypasses in the south, north and east of Nairobi are complete. Construction of the Western Bypass is due to begin.

In Mombasa, Kenha says it will upgrade the Mombasa-Nairobi highway at Mariakani into a dual carriageway to reduce perennial snarl-ups in that city.

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