In Summary
  • China Roads and Bridges Corporation will pocket Sh106.8 billion as profit for 27 years before handing over the project to the government.
  • But even as the multibillion-shilling road project is completed, issues initially raised by planners are yet to be addressed.
The ongoing construction of the Nairobi Expressway on December 3, 2021. It is 75% complete. Image: MERCY MUMO
The ongoing construction of the Nairobi Expressway on December 3, 2021. It is 75% complete. Image: MERCY MUMO

The Nairobi Expressway will be open from Saturday, May 14.

This was revealed on Sunday by President Uhuru Kenyatta when he presided over the Nairobi City Marathon.

 “We will allow Kenyans to use the expressway so that we see the loopholes that exist before we officially launch it,” he said.

“From Saturday, the expressway will be in use so that we continue to build Nairobi and Kenya as a whole.”

It is expected that the project will drastically cut travel time.

Initially, travelling from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to the City Centre took more than two hours.

It will, however, take between 15 and 20 minutes to cover the 27km stretch from AIC Mlolongo to James Gichuru on Waiyaki Way.

The project is being undertaken through the Build Operate Transfer contract, meaning the contractor will build and operate the expressway for 27 years to recoup the money spent.

China Roads and Bridges Corporation will pocket Sh106.8 billion as profit for 27 years before handing over the project to the government.

But even as the multibillion-shilling road project is completed, issues initially raised by planners are yet to be addressed.

Alfred Omenya, an architect, had said the spaces left between the project could provide a home for street families, shelter for hawkers, canvas for graffiti, bases for thugs, a river for the Nairobi sewage.

Omenya said the project has to be managed well to avoid dystopia.

Town and County Planners Associations chairman Mairura Omwenga also raised similar issues.

Omwenga said the road below the expressway was likely to be flooded as vegetation that ensured water infiltrate has been cleared.

“There is need for adequate drainage,” he told the Star on phone.

Omwenga said there was a need for urban control to ensure spaces left below the expressway were not turned into shelters for street children.

He said there was a need to have green spaces following the massive tree felling to pave way for the project.

For every tree cut down, the contractor had committed to plant three.

But so far, there are no trees planted despite hundreds being cleared.

The contractor has however planted a few flowers, some of which have withered.

Integrating the expressway with the existing facilities is a major component of project implementation.

The project is a reprieve as getting stuck in one of Nairobi's nightmare traffic jams is a reality that city dwellers have learnt to live with.

The reprieve will however come at a cost. Motorists will pay up to Sh350 to use the road.

Last week, the government revised toll rates up by 16 per cent to reflect foreign exchange rates for the dollar following the weakening of the Kenyan shilling.

In the new rates, saloon cars from Mlolongo exiting in Westlands will pay Sh360 from the initial Sh310.

The Sh88 billion expressway has 11 interchanges at Mlolongo, Standard Gauge Railway, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Eastern Bypass, Southern Bypass, Capital Centre, Haile Selassie Avenue, Museum Hill, Westlands and James Gichuru Road.

The road is expected to reduce travel time in Nairobi and its environs especially for those who will use the Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) service.

Motorists can choose to use either the Manual Toll Collection (MTC) or the ETC once they reach the service centers.

Photography, skaters, pedestrians, two and three-wheeled vehicles, wheelbarrows and bicycles are banned from the expressway.

Edited by Henry Makori