Outer Ring Road upgrade now kicks off
The unveiling of the largest single roads project in Nairobi’s Eastlands is likely to transform the densely populated area, bring down the cost of transport and attract new investors.
The county’s largest fresh produce market to resettle displaced traders will also be built in the area currently bedevilled by bad roads and congestion.
The Sh14 billion Outer Ring Road project, financed by the African Development Bank and the government, will be ready by September 2017 bringing to an end the traffic nightmare in Nairobi’s most populated suburbs.
“This project is among many that we have in Nairobi to decongest the city and bring down the cost of living and transport,” said President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday, adding: “One of the major problems holding back Nairobi’s growth is congestion; traffic jams that raise the cost of goods and transport charges because of hours spent on roads.”
Expansion of Outer Ring Road was set to commence in April last year, but has been delayed as Kenya Urban Roads Authority delayed in naming the contractor as well as the supervisor.
The road’s expansion is the latest of multiple road projects in the city which has included Thika Superhighway, three bypasses, Western Ring Roads and the expansion of five roads in Eastlands funded by the European Union.
During the construction period, service lanes will receive first priority to ease the expected traffic congestion before the contractor moves on to construct the inner lanes.
The service lanes are expected to be completed sooner than the three years it will take to fully expand the road to eight lanes.
“As part of the development of Outer Ring Road, AfDB did give us $11 million (Sh1 billion) to build our market. This will be our biggest market and those displaced from Tena and Kariobangi markets by this project will get first priority,” said Evans Kidero, the Nairobi governor.
The project is being undertaken by Chinese company Sinohydro Corporation and will see the road expanded with multiple interchanges to cure the characteristic traffic congestion experienced currently.
The road passes through densely populated residential and industrial areas in Eastlands in what President Kenyatta noted contributed to high fares and cost of goods.
President Kenyatta added that most of the roads projects target Eastlands to correct the historical under-investment in roads in the area.
The 13km road stretches from the Ruaraka/Thika Road Junction to Taj Mall in Embakasi. The project involves construction of two lanes in each direction, service roads, 10 footbridges, non-motorised transport facilities and six interchanges.
The design a lso makes provision for a nine-metre raised central median that will be later developed to a bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor.
Other features include walkways and cycle tracks over the entire length of the road, planting of 4,500 trees, and a children’s traffic safety park.
At the moment, Outer Ring Road traverses through a densely populated area with the heavy traffic reducing speed to about 12 to 15 kilometres per hour.
It takes between two to three hours to travel the 13km stretch but this is expected to be reduced to 10 minutes once the project is completed.
“An estimated 45 per cent of Nairobi road users ply the busy Outer Ring Road. And at one time or the other, half a million people cross the road on foot,” said Mr Kidero.
The road will benefit an estimated population of at least 2.2 million, representing about 70 per cent of the county’s population.
Estates covered by the road include Mlango Kubwa, Kiamaiko, Huruma, Kariobangi, Umoja, Mukuru and Embakasi.
The road expansion is expected to spur industrial expansion in the area by easing access as well as provide easier access to Industrial Area.
During the construction period, deviation roads of about 12km will be used by motorists and include Mathare North-Juja Road; Mtarakwa-Komarock Road, Embakasi Barracks-Kangundo Road and Eastern Bypass-Outer Ring Road.
They will have interchanges at Manyanja Road, Nyayo Estate Embakasi , Kangundo Road, Thika Road junction, Juja Road junction and where it meets the Eastern bypass.
About 500 youth from the project area will also receive artisanal training in building and construction with Mr Kenyatta stressing that this be followed strictly.
The road is 80 per cent financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) with the government providing the difference.
African Development Bank Regional Director Gabriel Negatu said that the project brings the bank’s commitment to roads in Kenya to $900 million.
Mr Negatu also added that the project also encompasses the construction of a huge fresh produce market.
The market will be built near the Kangundo Road junction on a 45-acre piece of land owned by the county and will be used to resettle traders displaced by the road as well as those currently in Wakulima Market in the CBD.
Mr Kenyatta also toured the Sh4.5 billion Muratina Road whose dualling started last year in May.
The 17km road which is funded by the European Union stretches from the intersection with General Waruinge to Juja Road and is expected to be complete by November 2016.