By Abdi Hussein
The new Nairobi Expressway under construction will have a ripple effect that is expected to spur economic growth and improve lives of people residing in Athi River and Kitengela towns due to the proximity of the populous towns.
The construction of the 27km (17-mile) expressway that is set to ease traffic on Mombasa Road, Uhuru Highway and all through to Westlands is expected to come with “goodies” for locals within the proximity of the major highway.
The expressway, which starts from Mlolongo, Machakos County,to the James Gichuru Road junction in Nairobi County ,will change the skyline of Mlolongo town and boost adjacent estates including Syokimau estate among other dozens estates along Mombasa road.
Those who are poised to reap ripple benefit of the project currently standing at 64 percent to completion according to Kenya Highway Authority (KeNHA) records are residents of Mlolongo, Athi River and Kitengela towns. It is expected to urbanize the towns further.
Currently motorists using Mombasa road are forced to endure long hours of traffic snarl-ups occasioned by the ongoing construction characterized by heavy excavation.
However, real estate developers are said to be moving in droves towards Athi River and Kitengela areas anticipating business openings after the road is complete.
According to Lawsavic property Management company director Mr Lawrence Kiambi ,the appreciation of land value is evident and house rent is expected to shoot up in the next one year.
“Considering a motorist using Expressway will only spend 20 minutes from Westlands to Mlolongo town, we expect real estate investors to flood both Mavoko and Kajiado with high anticipation of business openings. We expect the value of land to shoot up due to demand,” said Mr Kiambi.
Mr Kiambi also anticipates an increment of rent by significant margin considering most middle class earners who live in congested Nairobi suburbs may now opt to live in either in Mavoko or the East Part of Kajiado County.
“We expect more people to change their residential address to this region. The possible demand for houses may push the rent higher but remain an ideal place for most people. We expect mushrooming of more high end estates in this region,” he added.
Kitengela town and its environs spring to life especially on the weekends as revellers visit the areas in droves the popular Nyama choma and booze owing to its high end restaurants and hotels.
Business in these hotels and restaurants are expected to flourish with owners hopeful. Kitengela Enkasiti Plains Resort proprietor, Mr John Kung’u said the expressway will open up Kitengela.
“Kitengela and environs might be transformed into a tourist destination considering the proximity of town from JKIA and the warm temperatures. We hope to reap benefits in the hospitality industry,” said Mr Kung’u.
A tourist in Nairobi wishing to visit either Amboseli, Tsavo East National park or Kilimanjaro by road will only have to use express road to Mlolongo town, connect to Namanga road via Mombasa road interchange .From Namanga road, the new tarmacked Kajiado-Isara road will be ideal for the destination with much ease.
Currently, both Kitengela and Athi River towns enjoy the services of recently launched commuter train services to and from Nairobi.
Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority board chairman, Mr Peter Mositet said the expressway will help effect Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) targeting the Nairobi metropolitan areas especially Kitengela and Athi River.
“Mass Transport System (MTS)will be up and running with a special lane on Expressway. Most residents of Kitengela and Athi River will be enticed to use public transport that will ease means of transport,”said Mositet.
However, a section of residents in this region see the expressway as a blessing in disguise but others complain that it will result in continuous traffic jam from Athi River interchange to Kitengela.
Mr Daniel Kanchori, an advocate in high court cum politician said the government ought to move with speed to expand Namanga road or construct an alternative route in Kitengela to accommodate the expected large numbers of vehicles.
“Motorists might smoothly use the expressway only to be stuck in Kitengela. We do not want to transfer traffic jams from Mombasa road to Kitengela. Let the relevant authority come up with an alternative route,”Said Mr Kanchori.
Kajiado East Mp Peris Tobiko said the heavy traffic snarl up being occasionally experienced in Kitengela is a ripple effect of the expressway under construction.
“Motorists are sometimes held in traffic jams along Mombasa road and the same is experienced in Kitengela. Kitengela is the “bedroom” of Nairobi.We need to expand our roads in Kitengela,” she said.
The Kajiado County government is challenged to be upbeat in preparation to provide constant water, actualize the urban centres planning in readiness to much anticipated economic growth.
In the 9th year of devolution the populous Kitengela town is dogged by lack of consistent water supply and improper physical planning.
The Sh7.6 billion Nairobi Expressway is 64 percent complete with the contractor rushing against time to beat the set June 2022 completion date.
The “magic” road is being financed and constructed by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) which will operate the highway under a public-private partnership.
The four- and six-lane dual carriageway, with 10 interchanges along the route, will not be free to use, Motorists will have to pay a toll of between $2 and $3.
The expressway project, which is a Public-Private Partnership (PPP), is the first Build Operate Transfer (BOT) model project in Kenya.
By Abdi Hussein