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Nightmare for road users as Expressway takes shape

BUSINESS
By Wainaina Wambu | April 15th 2021
Motorists snake their way through the traffic jam caused by the construction of the Nairobi Expressway along Mombasa road near Nyayo stadium. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Motorists and commuters will continue spending longer hours in traffic for the rest of the year, as the construction of the Nairobi Expressway moves to an advanced stage.

The government argues this is a ‘small price to pay for the greater good for the 27km stretch, whose construction will ensure “seamless flow of traffic” among other economic benefits.

People using Mombasa Road and Uhuru Highway and those from Waiyaki Way will be the most affected. This means lost productivity and time.

Pedestrians jostle for space with motorists snaking their way through the traffic jam caused by the construction of the Nairobi Expressway along Mombasa road near Nyayo stadium. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Mombasa Road plays host to scores of industries and offers access to the larger Industrial Area, which houses key firms in the manufacturing and logistics business.

According to the Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, traffic gridlocks cost the capital’s economy almost Sh110 billion ($1 billion) a year in lost productivity.

The Sh60 billion project from Mlolongo to Westlands is set for completion in early 2022.

The construction works have over the past year burdened road users with long hours in traffic, with motorists having to contend with untimely disruptions. This is especially worse during the evening peak period when motorists hurry to beat the curfew introduced in the five counties surrounding Nairobi as part of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Commuters also have to walk long distances to cross Mombasa Road and sections of Uhuru Highway. The situation gets worse when it rains.

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Last week, the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) announced that traffic between the Bunyala roundabout and the Nyayo Stadium roundabout will be disrupted for 20 days.

“The Kenya National Highways Authority wishes to notify the general public that there will be traffic disruption along Uhuru Highway between Bunyala Roundabout and Nyayo Stadium for 20 days,” said KeNHA in a notice.

“This is to pave way for the ongoing construction of the Nairobi expressway along Mombasa road.”

KeNHA advised motorists to use alternative routes.

“We apologise for any inconvenience that may be caused as we endeavour to provide an efficient, safe and reliable road network,” said KeNHA.

Key traffic snarl-ups will also be a result of the construction works on the roundabouts.

Joining Mombasa Road from Waiyaki Way is met with stagnant traffic owing to construction works along the University Way roundabout.

The GPO roundabout that connects the Central Business District to Valley Road is under construction.

Uhuru Highway and Mombasa Road roundabouts are is also under construction, same to the Nyayo Stadium and Bunyala Road roundabouts.

Other areas where motorists and commuters will face nightmares include Capital Centre and Airtel offices.

Workers on a section of the Nairobi expressway in Westlands along Waiyaki under construction. The two-lane Nairobi-Mombasa Highway is being converted into a dual carriageway to address the increasing traffic congestion between Kenya’s capital city Nairobi and the country’s major port city Mombasa. April 12th,2021. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

CONSTRUCTION SITE

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia who toured the construction site on March 31 said the project was on course, noting that the elevated highway was progressing at 60 metres per day.

“The project is now 33 per cent complete and we expected the elevated highway, which is progressing at 60 metres per day (from both ends) to be completed by the end of 2021,” said Macharia.

He said the expressway is a public-private partnership that will allow “seamless flow of traffic” among other economic benefits.

It links the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to the Nairobi-Nakuru Highway.

“The new highway will also carry about 85 per cent of cargo and commuter traffic for the highly built areas of Athi River, Kitengela, Mlolongo, Syokimau, Utawala, Embakasi, South B and South C and the surrounding areas.”

Motorists who use it should expect to pay as much as Sh1,798 in toll fees for every journey in the next 27 years.

The China Road and Bridge Corporation is footing the construction under the PPP which allows it to recoup its investment through toll charges.

The road is expected to generate revenue of over Sh10 billion per year by 2043.

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