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Investors cash in on bypasses

HOME & AWAY
By By ERIC WAINAINA | November 7th 2013

By ERIC WAINAINA

The construction of bypasses has opened up areas on the outskirts of Nairobi for growth, with property investors rushing to cash in with huge housing developments.

Kiambu has for the past years experienced a tremendous growth, but since the construction of the Northern bypass which connects Limuru Road and Thika Road begun two years ago, the rate of development has increased.

The bypass opened up the area to investors who have been channelling huge amounts of money into the booming real estate sector. Bypasses are meant to ease congestion and always spur growth where they pass.

The Northern and Eastern bypasses, which are part of the government’s major infrastructure development programme aimed at making Kenya a regional business hub, have seen a scramble for property near those roads and a sharp rise in property prices.

Ruaka

Take Ruaka, for instance. Joseph Njuthi Karomo, a resident, said that before, Ruaka used to be a relatively quiet place until the construction of the Northern bypass started.

“Ruaka shopping centre used to be a one-lane affair. Today, investors are buying parcels of land in areas on the road to construct rental houses,” says Karomo.

A visit to Ruaka and other areas along the bypass revealed a place teeming with construction as investors put up residential houses, hotels and entertainment joints.

The 31-kilometre Northern bypass starts from Ruaka trading centre on Limuru Road, overpasses Banana Hill Road through Runda Estate, Closeburn Farm, onwards to Kahawa West, Kamae and Ruiru where it joins the Eastern bypass.

The 39-kilometre Eastern bypass links Thika Superhighway to Mombasa Road near City Cabanas Restaurant. It passes through Ruai and Embakasi.

Karomo says the area opened up and everyone wants to live there due to accessibility to Nairobi. At the point where the bypass connects to Kiambu-Ruiru Road before connecting to Thika Superhighway, unprecedented growth has been experienced, with investors building palatial homes and entertainment spots.

With the bypass, it became convenient for individuals working in any part of Nairobi to buy and build or rent houses in areas around the bypasses since one can access the city centre through Limuru Road while those operating on Mombasa Road can access it though the bypass.

Positive impact

John Mwaniki, a real estate agent, agrees that bypasses have a positive impact on developments: “Just take a tour along the already concluded bypasses and you will find new houses, mostly rentals. Property prices have also gone up,” he says.

According to Mwaniki, land prices as well as rental rates have shot up by over 50 per cent following rising demand.

“In Ruaka, a plot that used to go for Sh8 million, today goes for between Sh16 million and Sh20 million. That is the same case in Thome, Githogoro, Kinoo, Ruiru and any other area where the bypasses cut,” he says.

Before, the rental price in Membley was Sh15,000 for a four-bedroom mansion. That has since increased to about Sh60,000. In Kinoo, his company charged Sh7,000 for two-bedroom a few years ago. That has since tripled.

Hardware shops are also reaping from the increased demand. Joseph Kiminda, a quarry business owner, says: “There is no single day you will not find a construction project in progress. This means good business for construction materials suppliers. We are busy.”

Harrison Mungai, a resident of Gachie, says the road has led to an influx of people who have either bought or rented houses being built by the investors.

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