World Bank in Sh25b loan to ease Mombasa Road traffic

By John Oyuke

It is just a matter of time before the notorious traffic jam along the Uhuru Highway, which bisects Nairobi’s central business district becomes a thing of the past. This is after the World Bank approved Sh25 billion to fund local rapid road and rail transport system.

The National Urban Transport Improvement Project (NUTRIP) will see an elevated highway constructed above Mombasa Road-Uhuru Highway from Likoni Road junction at Ole Sereni Hotel to James Gichuru junction off Waiyaki Way.

The money, in addition to an expected Sh9.5 billion ($113m) counterpart funding from the Kenyan Government – will also be used to upgrade roads to reduce travel time and costs by constructing bypass roads in Kisumu in Western Kenya and Meru in Eastern Kenya.

World Bank Country Director Johannes Zutt said by helping to ease traffic congestion and develop a modern commuter system, the urban transport improvement project would enable Nairobi remain a great city in which to live and to do business. “Developing countries like Colombia, Mexico and Nigeria have embraced mass public transit systems as they transitioned to middle-income status, and it is now time for Kenya to follow their example,” he said.

The 12km road upgrade project is set to start in January next year and be ready for use in 2015 is part of Kenya National Highway Authority’s (KeNHA) larger plan to improve the thoroughfare from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to Rironi located in the Limuru constituency in Central Kenya.

Other improvements will include proper pedestrian pavements, service roads and a functional storm water drainage system.

The major components of the project include the expansion and upgrading of highway, service, and access roads from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport through Nairobi to Rironi on the Northern Corridor transport system.

The design by Otieno Odongo Engineering Consultants and unveiled mid this year entails removal of roundabouts between Nyayo stadium and Westlands considered a main cause of the traffic along the route.

The Nyayo stadium roundabout will be replaced with what was described as a single point diamond interchange while an elevated roadway-viaduct would be built towards Haile Selassie roundabout and end past the University Way roundabout. Haile Selassie road, Kenyatta Avenue and University way will all pass below the elevated roadway viaduct.

Ramps and overpasses will also be introduced at certain points to link different routes and minimise the amount of land required for the improvements.

Meshack Kidenda, Director-General of the Kenya National Highways Authority, said the detailed designs proposed for the project would ensure no existing properties along the 12km stretch would be demolished. “No property owner should be worried,” he stated. These changes come following the completion of construction work on the Nairobi-Thika highway built by three Chinese engineering firms, but which the Kenya National Highways Authority is due to take over this month.