Sh30 billion highway that will change Central Kenya set

Dummy of dual carriage highway. [Courtesy]

The Government has advertised tenders for consultants to supervise the construction of the Sh30 billion dual carriageway between Kenol in Murang’a County and Marua in Nyeri County.

Tenders for project contractors are expected to be released next week with construction expected to begin early next year.

The highway, from Kenol Township through Makutano and Sagana in Kirinyaga County and Kambiti in Machakos and Marua will be Kenya’s second most expensive road project after the Thika Superhighway.

It will form part of the African Development Bank (AfDB) financed Great North Highway that is expected to link Kenya to Ethiopia.

According to the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA), the road will be financed in two lots that will be constructed simultaneously.

The first lot will see the Kenol-Sagana section converted to a dual carriageway, going through Makutano in Mwea while the second will cover Sagana-Marua section with a bypass and connecting roads at Karatina, Nyeri.

Consultants who win the tender are expected to undertake a design review for the two lots, which cover 48km between Kenol and Sagana, and 32km between Sagana and Marua.

The Sh33 billion total cost for the project will go to contractors (Sh22 billion) as well as supervision and compensation (Sh11 billion).

The expansion of the highway coded A2 is expected to have a major impact in the region, with at least four Mount Kenya counties getting expanded connection to Nairobi by an expressway.

It is expected to cut traveling time between Nyeri and Nairobi by at least one hour. Construction of the road is also expected to open up the northern corridor and create employment opportunities for thousands of residents.

Some of the sectors expected to reap massive benefits from the highway are agriculture, tourism and small and medium-sized enterprises.

The counties covered by the project mainly grow coffee, tea, potatoes, beans, maize and avocado. Completion of the highway will make it easier to move these farm produce to Nairobi and onward to Mombasa. 

Counties that stand to reap from the highway are Murang’a, which will have a dual carriageway traversing it, as well as Kirinyaga, Nyeri, Machakos and Embu.

According to KeNHA, Kiambu County will also be a major beneficiary after the reworking of exits into Thika town where the superhighway ends.

“The redesigned Thika Town exits will address a traffic gridlock that has become a permanent feature after the completion of the superhighway,” said KeNHA spokesman Joseph Kariuki.

The supervision component of the highway construction includes ensuring that contractors work within specified parameters and deliver the project on time.

“We expect the contractors to start construction early next year, with a delivery time frame of about 36 months,” said Kariuki.

According to KeNHA, 800 households whose farms and property will be affected by the project have been identified for compensation by the National Land Commission.

A number of business premises, including those housing banks, petrol stations, electronic shops and eateries have been earmarked for demolition.

Traders with premises between Kenol and Makuyu markets, as well as Kambiti, Makutano and Sagana are on a one-month notice to vacate the road reserve.

However, a number of small-scale traders have pleaded with the government to allow them more time to remain in business to repay loans, saying they had invested heavily in businesses along the highway. [Additional reporting by Boniface Gikandi]