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How Sh62bn expressway will transform Nairobi transport

It will take only 20 minutes from James Gichuru Road junction in Westlands to Mlolongo

In Summary
  • Motorists will pay between Sh100 and Sh1,500 to use the expressway
  • Boda bodas and tuk-tuks will be banned.
Construction of the Expressway from JKIA to Rironi under construction at South C along Mombasa on November 11, 2020.
Construction of the Expressway from JKIA to Rironi under construction at South C along Mombasa on November 11, 2020.
Image: MERCY MUMO

Getting to JKIA on time to catch a flight can be a nightmare. You may need to leave three hours in advance, especially if you are cutting through the city.

Or you may miss your flight.

Traffic along Mombasa road can be chaotic and jammed, moving at a snail's pace, or not moving at all.

However, travel travails will become history with the Sh62 billion, 27km Nairobi Expressway.

Users will pay tolls ranging from Sh100 to Sh1,500, depending on the type of vehicle and entry and exit points.

It is expected to be completed in December 2022 by the China Road and Bridge Corporation..

It will be a four-lane, dual carriageway being constructed along the middle section of the road between Mlolongo and Waiyaki Way and terminating at the James Gichuru junction.

The Ministry of Transport estimates it will take only 20 minutes to get from James Gichuru Road junction in Westlands to Mlolongo using the road.

In a report to Parliament, Transport CS James Macharia called the project an engineering masterpiece.

The route will have two traffic lanes in either direction and 10 interchanges. Much of it will be elevated.

"Traffic studies and projections indicate an estimated 30 per cent of the vehicles will travel along the new expressway... This will result in reduced travel times for road users plying both the Expressway and the A8 road," Macharia said in the report.

He said the primary objective of the expressway is to decongest the Nairobi metropolitan area by providing faster, reliable and less costly transport.

Sections of the Expressway will feature eight, six and four lanes based on traffic projections.

There will be a four-lane dual carriageway from Mlolongo to the Eastern Bypass and a six lane dual carriageway from the Eastern Bypass to the Southern Bypass.

There will be a four-lane dual carriageway from the Southern Bypass to St Marks Church and and a four-lane dual carriage way from St Marks Church to James Gichuru.

The ministry expects works to be completed by December 2022, just months after President Uhuru Kenyatta exits office.

The project is one of his most visible legacy projects.

TOLL CHARGES 

Using the road will cost you. Boda bodas and tuk-tuks will be banned.

The road passing through the congested capital had been delayed for nearly a decade but the construction started in April and is about 13 per cent done.

The 27.1km Expressway begins at Mlolongo, goes to JKIA, the CBD and ends in Westlands along Waiyaki Way.

Light vehicles with two axles will pay Sh100 and Sh300 to use the Expressway, depending on entry and exit points.

Light vehicles with two axles and a high bonnet will pay Sh150 to  Sh450 to use the road, also depending on entry and exit points.

Heavy vehicles with fewer than four axles will pay Sh400 to Sh1,200. Heavy vehicles with more than four axles will pay Sh500 to Sh1,500, depending on entry and exit points.

“The total cash flow generated from operation activities - mainly toll revenue - during the concession period is estimated at $2.765 million [Sh302 million],” the report said.

It is being built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation under a public-private partnership model.

CRBC funding construction will operate the road for 27 years to recoup funds before handing it over to the state.

Interchanges will be built at Mlolongo, Syokimau, JKIA, Eastern Bypass, Southern Bypass, Capital Centre, Haile Selassie, Museum Hill, Westlands and the Mainline station at the endpoint, St Marks/Lion Place.

There will be a roundabout at the junction of Enterprise Road with Mombasa Road and another at the junction of James Gichuru and Red Hill Link Road.

The project will have four pedestrian footbridges at Mlolongo, Imara Daima, General Motors and St Marks.

The project is being implemented as the Nairobi Metropolitan Service is also going flat out to redeem the image of the city once known as the Green City in the Sun.

Just last week, Uhuru launched the Nairobi Commuter Rail System that will ease commuting and help decongest the city.

In his report to Parliament, Macharia said relocation of utilities for power, ICT, water and sewer lines for the expressway is being handled by the government.

Four campsites support the work. They are at JKIA, Syokimau, National Police (Southern Bypass) and Veterinary Services Kabete.

The CS said six public participation meetings were held along the road corridor to obtain input.

Initially, there was an uproar by environmentalist that the road would cut through Uhuru Park.

The public participation meetings in 2019 were held in Mlolongo on November 19, Katani Road on November 20, Imara Daima on November 26, DCI Training School in South C on November 21, St Veronica's Church in South B on November 22 and Sarit Centre in Westlands on November 27.

“Focus group discussions were also held with boda boda and tuk-tuk operators, small business traders, PSVs and residents' associations along the project corridor,” the report read.

It said high-level meetings with primary stakeholders and professional bodies and institutions were also held.

The Architectural Association of Kenya raised some concerns on the design due to the 'negative visual intrusion'. “A team of architects has been assigned to provide professional advice on visual design to Kenha,” it said.

Landscape architects will advise on tree cover affecting the expressway.

“This will incorporate tree cover and diversity, population shrubbery and advice on floral shoots and tree species that will allow and encourage human activity," the report read.

The main contracting authority is the Kenya National Highways Authority. The project has been -Bypass- James Gichuru.

(Edited by V. Graham)