Government revises JKIA-Westlands expressway design

An artist's impression of the Nairobi Expressway. [Standard]

The Sh61 billion JKIA Westlands expressway will not eat into Nairobi's Uhuru Park as was previously planned.

According to Transport CS James Macharia, a new design will not hive off parts of the park following a public uproar.

“We all recognise that Uhuru Park is an important public park and it is one of the remaining parcels of green areas within Nairobi that needs to be preserved for posterity,” Macharia said in a statement.

Macharia added that they have ensured an elaborate Traffic Management Plan to guarantee the safety and minimal disruption to the road users during the construction of the expressway.

The current existing A8 Road will still be open during the construction.

There has been a backlash over the intention to take away 1.3 acres (0.5 hectares) from the park a fortnight ago when President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the project.

The detailed plan indicated that land was to be used for the construction of exit and entry ramps, a decision the State defended.

Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) said the section to be devoured was public land on Uhuru highway road reserve and not the park.

“Upon completion, the section will have furniture, flower beds and other amenities that will enable Kenyans to continue enjoying the park,” Government Spokesperson Cyrus Oguna said in defending the initial plan.

The project is a four-lane dual carriage way. [Standard]

The four-lane expressway is a 27-kilometre stretch linking Mlolongo and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to the Nairobi-Nakuru highway.

It is expected to considerably reduce traffic from Mlolongo to Rironi through Westlands.

There will be ten interchanges; at Mlolongo, SGR terminus, Eastern and Southern bypasses, Capital Centre, Haile Selassie Avenue, Museum Hill, The Mall in Westlands and James Gichuru Road junction.

The government says that upon completion it will take 20 minutes to drive from Mlolongo to James Gichuru Road – a stretch that now requires two to three hours during normal flow of traffic.

Some of the properties to be affected by the road include the Papal Dais used by Pope Francis in November 2015 during his visit to Kenya, Hotel Boulevard and NextGen Mall on Mombasa road.

Others are the Khalsa Primary School and parts of the Railways Club, the iconic St Pauls University of Nairobi Catholic Chapel, a military Camp and National Persons With Disabilities plots in Westlands.

The project will be done by the China Road and Bridge Corporation through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP).