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KeNHA to review design of Sh33b road project

BUSINESS
By Jacinta Mutura | March 1st 2021

The Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) is considering constructing an elevated road in Karatina town in a Sh33 billion Kenol-Marua highway expansion project.

During a public participation forum at Karatina Stadium on Saturday, the agency said the project would involve the construction of a viaduct over the existing road.

A viaduct is a long, high bridge that carries a road or a railway across a wide valley, or railroad or over a road.

The public participation brought together Project Affected Persons (PAPs), officials of water companies, Kenya Power Company, and other relevant government agencies on land acquisition and project implementation from Sagana to Marua in the dualling of the 84km Kenol-Marua road.

“Karatina town is being considered to have a viaduct, which is an elevated road over the existing road, to accommodate seamless flow of traffic,” read a statement from KeNHA.

Cost to change

Initially, the agency had proposed two designs for the road, where the route from Kenol to Marua, through Karatina Town, was projected to cost Sh4.4 billion for compensation, while the route to Marua through a three-kilometer bypass in Karatina was to cost Sh3.6 billion.

However, the cost of the project is expected to change, as construction of the viaduct will call for fresh valuation of land and property.

A gazette notice is set to be published next week after the PAPs give ownership documents with list of property on the land.

Compensation

A report on Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) published in 2019 shows that the compensation cost, which caters for loss of land, trees, crops and structures, depends on the preferred route.

Construction of a viaduct means that minimal property will be demolished to pave the way for road expansion. Rehabilitation of the railway line led to change of design, as it cuts across the existing road in Karatina Town.

The project includes dualling of the road up to Marua in Nyeri, but KeNHA plans to review the design from Marua to Nyeri Town.

The Kenol- Sagana-Marua Road, which is being constructed at a cost of Sh33 billion, is part of the 800km stretch between Nairobi and Moyale linking the “Great North Road” from Mombasa to Ethiopia.

The Kenol-Marua road expansion is one of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s legacy projects in Central Kenya, with works from Kenol in Murang’a already underway.

The road will traverse Murang’a, Kirinyaga and Nyeri counties starting at Kenol, Maragua, then through Karatina, before terminating in Marua, or Nyeri Town.

Relocate utilities

During the public participation forum, KeNHA sought to relocate utilities such as water and power lines.

A total 54 public institutions, ranging from education centres, health facilities, churches, factories and water projects, will be affected by the project. These include 17 churches, 12 schools, nine factories and society farms, seven water projects, three health facilities and a cemetery.

Expansion of the existing road to accommodate dual carriageway with a proper two-lane facility, alignment of the road and provision of new interchanges at Makutano and Marua are expected to displace families.

According to the ESIA report, land acquisition and property compensation will mainly occur at market centres of Kenol, Makuyu, Makutano, Sagana, Kibirigwi and Karatina towns due to encroachment.

“A 60 meter road corridor will be required as per the typical designs for road implementation. An extra 20 feet for the road section from Sagana to Marua will have to be acquired,” reads the report.

The impact of the project at Makutano and Marua interchange sites are considered minimal, as the areas do not have a lot of developments, hence fewer activities that would lead to resettlement and compensation.

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