By Felix Olick
NAIROBI, KENYA: President Kibaki commissioned the Sh31 billion Nairobi-Thika Superhighway with a promise that more funds have been set aside for other roads to open up the country for trade.
The reconstruction that kicked off in January 2009, is complete – and the Government is looking at it as one of the biggest pointers towards the realisation of the vision 2030.
It is expected to reduce general transport costs, improve on accessibility to public transportation, create employment opportunities, housing and recreation activities.
Kibaki, however, noted that Thika road did not operate in isolation and that other roads within Nairobi need to be improved to enhance free flow of traffic within the Central Business District (CBD) and Nairobi’s Metropolis.
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He said the Government was keen to address problems of congestion along Uhuru Highway through the Nairobi Urban Transport Improvement project.
“We intend to address the congestion experienced on Uhuru Highway through expansion of the road, construction of elevated roadways over the CBD area and replacement of junctions with interchanges,” promised the President.
He further announced that consultants have been commissioned to carry out detailed design of the project and expressed optimism that with the new developments, the county is on the right path of being industrialised.
Other leaders, including Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, Deputy Prime Minister, Uhuru Kenyatta, also attended the event that has seen an end to the traffic nightmare along the busy road.
Kibaki acknowledged that without good infrastructure, there can be no trade, economic development and improvement in the quality of life, especially in Kenya where roads carry over 80 per cent of passenger transport.
The president also regretted that over 3,000 people lose their lives annually due to road carnage and blamed it on indiscipline by drivers and motorcycles.
The project which, was funded by the Government of Kenya, African Development Bank and EXIM Bank of China was initially estimated to cost Sh27 billion.
Satellite towns have already started reaping the benefits of the superhighway with a number of malls, estates and factories scrambling for space in these areas.
Kibaki issued a terse statement to vandals of scrap metal and directed security agents to be more aggressive in dealing with the menace.
“They (vandals) should be arrested and jailed so that they can learn,” said Kibaki. Street light poles, guard rails, sewer covers, bridges, road railings, telecoms equipment, manhole covers, power installations and road signs are just some of the items that are treasured by scrap metal dealers.