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Dual Kiambu Road to ease traffic gridlock on Nairobi's key artery

Matatu (left) overlaps other motorists along Kiambu Road, July 5, 2020. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

About 10 years ago, the entire stretch of Kiambu Road from Muthaiga Golf Club all the way to Kiambu town had no visible building in sight.

In the recent past, there has been a population explosion with multiple residential areas burgeoning through what was once almost exclusively farmlands.

The rapid increase in new residential areas including Fourways Junction, Edenville, Runda Paradise, Mushroom, Ineza, Runda Paradise, Five Star Meadows, Thindigua and Kasarini among others, have come with tens of thousands of middle and upper-middle-class residents - the majority owning at least one or two cars.

The 10.8km single-lane stretch from Muthaiga Golf Club to Kiambu town, can no longer support the growth of the area which has also seen the number of petrol stations increase from two in 2016 to eight.

Other notable establishments that sprout daily include malls and mini-malls, car wash ventures, entertainment spots, hospitals, supermarkets and liquor stores, hotels, recreational centres, churches and schools, mostly within close proximity to the road.

The road also seems to have joined Langata Road and Ngong Road as a motor vehicle dealership hub, hosting dozens of car yards.

Long hours of traffic are however synonymous with the road, and to beat this, traffic police have devised what has come to be popularly referred to as “Happy Hour”.

Borrowing from the common restaurant practice when drinks are sold at reduced prices at a certain period of the day, the Kiambu Road Happy Hour starts when traffic police block vehicles joining the road from Thika Road in the morning rush-hour to allow those headed to the city centre uninterrupted out-flow on both lanes.

The same is repeated during the evening, but this time vehicles headed towards the city centre are blocked to allow the inbound traffic to use both lanes.

While to some degree this has worked, it only favours the majority, without looking at the composition of the minority which in many cases includes school buses and even ambulances and police vehicles.

There are many instances when the minority are released before the majority are cleared, resulting in accidents and serious snarl-ups.

Roads are the arteries through which the country’s economy pulses. They link workers to jobs, farmers to markets, students to schools, police to their stations, the sick to hospitals and essential service providers to where their services are needed.

Development almost naturally follows roads, as transport affects almost every aspect of economic activity.

Our infrastructural development is maturing fast and as the new administration settles in, dualling of Kiambu Road to support the economic agenda of both Nairobi and Kiambu counties will be vital for the country’s development agenda as a matter of urgency.

-Mr Otiende is the managing director of Calla PR, a strategic communications and issues management firm.