The sight of green flowers hanging from the sturdy concrete pillars that carry the Sh97bn JKIA-Westlands Expressway is alluring.
Trees along sections of the road and the supplementing green grass, the ground below the expressway create rare harmony with nature in a stone jungle.
So far, so good. Today [Sunday] cows had a ball feasting on the grass and the hanging gardens.
For some time now, several motorists and residents who use the JKIA-Westlands Expressway have been treated to sights of beautiful flowers that have bloomed overnight.
Unlike typical flowers that take months to flourish, these ones on the expressway have given the road users an overnight natural ambience, serenity and peace of mind.
The flowers are grown on pockets fixed on the concrete pillars, which also allow water to drain down into the highway drainage system.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said the technology used is called geo-flower and the plants are not artificial as could be perceived.
Statistics show every km of 27km stretch cost about Sh3.6bn, dwarfing the 50km Thika superhighway, which was completed in 2012 and built at a cost of Sh32bn at Sh640 million per km.
The flower planting has been part of three greening being carried out on the Expressway by Kenya National Highway Authority (Kenha).
In a previous interview, Kenha Deputy Director Engineer Julia Odenyo said the greening aims at preventing soil erosion, fusing the character of engineering with the environment, creating balance and beautifying the landscape of the highway.
“We felt that the travel should not be boring. The covering of columns with plants gives it a soft architecture on the walls and brings relaxed feeling when travelling. It is also part and parcel of conserving the environment as the plants on the pillars will absorb carbon emitted from the vehicles using the expressway,” said Odenyo.
“They will be part and parcel of the environment that we find ourselves in. It is important to ensure trees are retained because of the contributions they make on climate change, “she added.
Photos by Stafford Ondego.