Areas deep in Kiambu County that were once shunned are now being sought after by private developers, pushing up property prices.
Farmers have also welcomed the enhanced road network, which they say has improved their profits through easy access to the market.
Dairy farmer John Njoroge used to ride his bicycle for several kilometres to deliver milk. He says customers now collect the milk from his farm.
“I used to cycle all the way to have my milk collected and weighed because the roads were horrible. So many of us have benefitted immensely from the improved the roads,” Mr Njoroge said.
The roads have seen a company install milk coolers close to farmers where they can deposit milk awaiting collection by trucks to processing plants. “The coolers are the best thing that ever happened to us. Milk will never be thrown away because of overproduction or because of bad roads,” Mr Njoroge said.
Ms Susan Njambi from Kagwe in Githunguri said that before roads in the area were tarmacked a lot of milk went bad because of poor roads.
She said the Mau Mau road network has improved access to Githunguri milk processing plants.
“We are enjoying good profits now. I used to hire a boda boda to take my milk to the collection centres. Sometimes we suffered spillage but now the trucks collect milk just outside my gate,” Ms Njambi said.
The improved roads include Mau Mau and others in Gatundu South and North, Githunguri and Lari. The roads have not only eased transport but also led to the high prices of land. In some cases, the prices have tripled.
In Kiambu West, areas around Kabete, Kikuyu and Limuru have recorded a tremendous increase in property value. The increase is attributed to the construction of roads linking Rwaka to Kikuyu as well as the Nakuru-Nairobi highway.
On the other end of Kiambu County is Ndeiya. The region has been described as a hardship area and attracts an allowance for civil servants.
However, Ndeiya is now a gold mine. It is the new business frontier with new buildings coming up. The development is also linked to improved road networks connecting Ndeiya to the Nakuru-Nairobi highway and the Southern Bypass.
Ndeiya region has largely been opened up by the Thogoto-Mutarakwa road that connects Mai Mahiu Road from Mutarakwa to Thogoto in Kikuyu. Other roads connecting the Nakuru-Nairobi highway to Thogoto-Mutarakwa Road have been constructed, adding more value to land and property.
The effect of the road network has seen developers and investors flock to the sleepy villages looking for land.
In Ndeiya, an acre was previously sold for Sh300,000 before the construction of the roads. The moment Thogoto-Mutarakwa road was listed for construction the price rose to Sh4 million.
Upon completion of the road, the price further increased to Sh10 million per acre. Plots touching the tarmac fetch up to Sh15 million.
Kiambu Governor James Nyoro said the county government has tarmacked about 170 kilometres of roads.
He said the project has increased property value by up to 10 times in areas like Karai, Ndeiya and parts of Lari. He said farmers have reaped big from the road network.
He said milk companies are now able to move around and collect milk from farmers in far-flung areas.
Mr Peter Kague, a property expert, said a lot of money has been injected into the Kiambu economy and especially in the rural areas.
“We have seen tremendous growth in the recent past. We have also seen subdivision of land, pooling to buy property as well as land leasing.”
Mr Kague added that whenever tarmac touches any piece of land the price spirals upwards.
“The moment you see a sleepy village like Ndeiya becoming a major stopover for long-distance truckers and subsequent construction of feeding joints and bungalows then that is an indicator of a fast-growing economy. The residents also need to invest in their land.”
A real estate investor, Mr Peter Njenga, said Ndeiya has been opened up for business.
“If there is a place that would become as expensive as areas in Kabete, Tigoni, Thindigua and Kikuyu it has to be Ndeiya,” Mr Njenga added that for the first time there is a gated community estate at Ika Ithano.
“A small town has cropped up on Thogoto Road christened Nairobi Ndogo. These are all effects of the road network,” he said.
Mr Njenga also noted that the number of hardware shops has tripled, an indicator of a fast-growing area with a demand for building materials. “The hardware shops dotting this place can only be seen in places like Ruiru and Membley,” he said.
Mr John Kibunja, who deals in building materials, said new investors buying land across Liambu have greatly improved his business.
He noted that the newcomers putting up homes and new towns taking advantage of the roads have promoted hardware businesses.
“We are experiencing a construction boom and it is pegged on the new roads.”
Mr Kibunja continued: “I am able to get raw materials from big hardware shops. I buy sand and stones from Maai Mahiu and Naivasha and get back in good time.”