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Nairobi double-decker road set for construction in 2017

The construction of a double-decker road linking Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to Rironi through Uhuru Highway could start next year, further delaying efforts to decongest Nairobi.

Transport secretary James Macharia said the building of the 30-40 kilometre road is expected to start in the next nine to 12 months.

“The construction of the double-decker road should be starting in the next 9 to 12 months, my colleague from the Treasury Henry Rotich and I met with the key partners to discuss the implementation plan,” he said.

MEETING WITH DONORS

Mr Macharia said the meeting with donors resolved to have the road built in three phases with the first one running from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to the Likoni Road turn off.

Phase two would be implemented on the section between the Likoni Road turn off to Westlands while the last stage would run from Westlands to Rironi.

Mr Macharia said motorists using the express road would be required to pay a toll fee.

“The double decker road will be an ideal selection for tolling, those who don’t have money to pay will use the old roads where they will not pay tolling fee but those who are in a hurry will use the double decker and won’t mind paying even Sh1,000, for example, to use this express road,” he said.

The construction of the double-decker road has been in the pipeline for a long time despite the worsening traffic situation around Nairobi as more vehicles are introduced on the roads.

Parliament in 2008 approved the construction of a 77 kilometre double-decker road in Nairobi under a 30-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) deal. However, nearly a decade later construction works are yet to commence.

WORLD BANK CONCERN

Initial attempts to build the road failed after the World Bank raised concern over the integrity of Strabag — the Austrian firm that had won the concession to build and operate the road.

The fallout followed a condition by the World Bank that it would only finance the project once Strabag complied with its social and environmental safeguards, including land acquisition and Kenyan legal provisions.

The JKIA-Rironi road is expected to supplement another planned project known as the Nairobi Metropolitan Mass Rapid Transport System (MRTS) that will entail the construction of a 167-kilometre exclusive public road and rail transport grid that would link the city centre with key neighbouring towns and municipalities such as Kikuyu, Thika, Ruiru, Athi River, Kitengela, Machakos, Limuru and Kajiado.

According to proposals to the government, the project would be implemented along nine road corridors namely; Nairobi Railway Station (NRS)-Ruiru-Thika, NRS-Juja Road-Kangundo, NRS-Jomo Kenyatta Airport-Athi River, NRS-Langata Road-Karen and NRS-Upper Hill-Ngong.

Other corridors to be covered by the project will include NRS-Kabete-Kikuyu, NRS-Gigiri- Limuru and Outer Ring Roads in city’s Eastlands area.

CENTRAL TERMINAL

The present Nairobi Railway Station area, including the yards, has been proposed for the construction of a 24-storey central hub terminal for the MRTS in that all lines would originate or terminate at this point or traverse through it.

The blueprint showed the road network would be serviced by an exclusive closed rapid bus system complete with special feeder services. The special bus routes would run alongside the normal highways except within the Central Business District (CBD) where it would be elevated.

On the part of rail transport, the entire network is proposed to be on an elevated platform with a total of 76 stations and five maintenance depots to service passenger needs.

Phase one of the MRTS would cover the corridors along Thika Road I, Juja Road, Jogoo Road, Ngong Road 1, Limuru Road and Mombasa In the second phase, work would be carried out on Outer Ring Road, Thika Road II, Waiyaki Way, Ngong Road II, Thika Road III and Lang’ata Road.

BEYOND CAPACITY

Statistics by the Transport ministry showed that major roads in Nairobi such as Thika Road, Outer Ring Road, Uhuru Highway, Haile Selassie Avenue, Mbagathi Way, Lang’ata Road and Waiyaki Way are used on average by 80,000 vehicles every day — which is way beyond their design capacity.

The Nairobi City commuter train currently carries about 19,000 commuters daily which also way below the estimated demand of 90,000 passengers.