Thika superhighway completion set for June

April 10, 2012
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Spanning 42km the Thika superhighway Project will have a 39km footpath and cyclists’ lane/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 10 – The completion of the Thika superhighway has been pushed to June.

Several hitches have held back the project, missing both the December 2011 and March 2012 deadlines.

Consulting Engineering firm APEC’s Managing Director Johnson Matu said besides land acquisition issues, heavy rains in the latter part of last year caused unexpected delays.

“We are having an issue with the removal and relocation of service lines, water pipes, power and some have not be relocated, so the contractor was unable to complete the works,” he said.

The relocation process and land acquisition has cost an estimated Sh5 billion, while supervision costs now stand at Sh1 billion.

So far, total costs for road works on the superhighway have reached Sh27 billion with each of the three lots of the project over 90 percent completed.

Spanning 42 kilometres (km) the Thika superhighway Project will have a 39km footpath and cyclists’ lane.

Lot 1, which is being undertaken by Chinese contractor China Wu Yi Company Limited stretches from Uhuru Highway ending at Muthaiga roundabout.

“The scope of that work includes improvement of Forest Road, Kariokor Road and Murang’a and the connection of the Globe flyover to Tom Mboya,” Matu explained.

Lot 2, under the supervision of Synohydro, is between Muthaiga roundabout and Kenyatta University, about a 14 km distance that is 93 and 94 percent complete, needing basic road furniture, lighting and signage.

Sheng Li engineering, the contractor overseeing completion of Lot 3 the last portion of the road to Thika, has already began construction of foot bridges.

“The bridges at least in our lot will be in the range of Sh20 million each. We are constructing five and the first is almost complete,” Sheng Li Engineer Zeng Xlanmin explained.

In all, there will be approximately 17 footbridges servicing pedestrians from Nairobi to Thika town.

A toll station and weigh bridge are being constructed along the highway in Lot 3 (in Ruiru), which once complete will be operationalised by Parliament.

Although fees are yet to be determined, traditional toll stations charge vehicles by type and in the case of heavy load trucks, the fee is determined by the number of axles, wheels and height of the truck.

The eight-lane highway that has re-written Kenya’s highway rulebook is expected to accommodate 300,000 cars daily.

Even though the temporary speed limit has been set between 30 and 50 kilometres as construction is on-going, Senior Superintendent of Police Leonard Katana said safety will be crucial when the speed limit is increased.

“It’s a good road so let’s not change it into a killer road. Officers will monitor drivers. The speed limit will remain. However in future we will propose to be a bit higher, but we must drive safely,” he said.

Furthermore, Information Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo stressed the need for motorist to respect the traffic laws.

“I have driven on Thika road only to see matatus calling for passengers at the centre of the highway; that just means they actually don’t know what a highway is,” he said.

Ndemo said the concept of a highway needs to be properly communicated to Kenyan motorists, requiring Ministry of Transport and relevant government agencies to formulate an aggressive education campaign.

“The Ministry of Transport should announce that it has cancelled all drivers’ licenses until everyone goes for another test on how to use the highway. Otherwise Thika Road will not help,” he asserted.

So far, two sections of the Sh2 million three-level Pangani interchange are operational, servicing Forest Road, Thika Road, Murang’a Road and Ring Road Ngara, as well as the recently opened Muthaiga underpass.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 10 – The completion of the Thika superhighway has been pushed to June.

Several hitches have held back the project, missing both the December 2011 and March 2012 deadlines.

Consulting Engineering firm APEC’s Managing Director Johnson Matu said besides land acquisition issues, heavy rains in the latter part of last year caused unexpected delays.

“We are having an issue with the removal and relocation of service lines, water pipes, power and some have not be relocated, so the contractor was unable to complete the works,” he said.

The relocation process and land acquisition has cost an estimated Sh5 billion, while supervision costs now stand at Sh1 billion.

So far, total costs for road works on the superhighway have reached Sh27 billion with each of the three lots of the project over 90 percent completed.

Spanning 42 kilometres (km) the Thika superhighway Project will have a 39km footpath and cyclists’ lane.

Lot 1, which is being undertaken by Chinese contractor China Wu Yi Company Limited stretches from Uhuru Highway ending at Muthaiga roundabout.

“The scope of that work includes improvement of Forest Road, Kariokor Road and Murang’a and the connection of the Globe flyover to Tom Mboya,” Matu explained.

Lot 2, under the supervision of Synohydro, is between Muthaiga roundabout and Kenyatta University, about a 14 km distance that is 93 and 94 percent complete, needing basic road furniture, lighting and signage.

Sheng Li engineering, the contractor overseeing completion of Lot 3 the last portion of the road to Thika, has already began construction of foot bridges.

“The bridges at least in our lot will be in the range of Sh20 million each. We are constructing five and the first is almost complete,” Sheng Li Engineer Zeng Xlanmin explained.

In all, there will be approximately 17 footbridges servicing pedestrians from Nairobi to Thika town.

A toll station and weigh bridge are being constructed along the highway in Lot 3 (in Ruiru), which once complete will be operationalised by Parliament.

Although fees are yet to be determined, traditional toll stations charge vehicles by type and in the case of heavy load trucks, the fee is determined by the number of axles, wheels and height of the truck.

The eight-lane highway that has re-written Kenya’s highway rulebook is expected to accommodate 300,000 cars daily.

Even though the temporary speed limit has been set between 30 and 50 kilometres as construction is on-going, Senior Superintendent of Police Leonard Katana said safety will be crucial when the speed limit is increased.

“It’s a good road so let’s not change it into a killer road. Officers will monitor drivers. The speed limit will remain. However in future we will propose to be a bit higher, but we must drive safely,” he said.

Furthermore, Information Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo stressed the need for motorist to respect the traffic laws.

“I have driven on Thika road only to see matatus calling for passengers at the centre of the highway; that just means they actually don’t know what a highway is,” he said.

Ndemo said the concept of a highway needs to be properly communicated to Kenyan motorists, requiring Ministry of Transport and relevant government agencies to formulate an aggressive education campaign.

“The Ministry of Transport should announce that it has cancelled all drivers’ licenses until everyone goes for another test on how to use the highway. Otherwise Thika Road will not help,” he asserted.

So far, two sections of the Sh2 million three-level Pangani interchange are operational, servicing Forest Road, Thika Road, Murang’a Road and Ring Road Ngara, as well as the recently opened Muthaiga underpass.

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