NAIROBI, November 14 – Construction of the expanded Nairobi-Thika Highway at a cost Sh27 billion after weeks of controversial demolitions to pave way for the work finally commenced on Friday.
Roads Minister Chris Obure who spoke during the signing of contract agreements for the construction at Kasarani said the development of the project was one of the largest ever undertaken in Kenya since independence.
“The construction of the Nairobi-Thika Highway has been made possible with the support of the African Development Bank who jointly with the government of Kenya is co-financing this mega project,” Mr Obure disclosed.
He said the project was part of the wider achievement of Kenya’s Vision 2030 with the help of development partners in the maintenance, rehabilitation and construction of road infrastructure in the country.
The Minister revealed that construction project would be carried out in three separate contracts that were allocated to M/S China Wu Yi Company, M/S Synohydro Corporation Limited and M/S Shengli Engineering Construction Group which are all International companies from the Republic of China.
“The signing of these contracts is a major milestone as it marks the beginning of the implementation of the Nairobi-Thika Highway improvement project,” he said.
He added: “The construction is expected to be carried out in three stages, the first will cover the section between Uhuru Highway and Muthaiga, the second contract is between the Muthaiga round about to Kenyatta University while the third from Kenyatta University to Thika,” Mr Obure explained.
The Nairobi-Thika highway expansion project which is expected to take 30 months and is due for completion in August 2011 covers a total length of 50.4 kilometers that also include service and links.
The highway which forms part of a link between Nairobi with Northern Kenya and neighboring countries such as Ethiopia and Somalia will be upgraded from a four lane dual carriageway to an eight lane carriageway with full access control and grade separations.
Other facilities expected to be provided within the project include inter-changes which will replace roundabouts, flyovers, under-passes, bus bays and footpaths that will improve mobility and transport linkages between the Nairobi Metropolitan area and satellite towns located on the highway.
Mr Obure said the government was enforcing plans to decongest the Central Business District (CBD) which contributes traffic congestion on major roads within the city such as Nairobi-Thika Highway, Outering Road, Uhuru Highway, Haileselassie Road, Mbagathi Way, Langata Road and Waiyaki Way that on average are used by 70,000 vehicles per day.
Present at the same venue was Nairobi Metropolitan Assistant Minister and Kasarani MP Elizabeth Ongoro who urged the contractors to involve the youth in constructing the super highway that will help them get job opportunities.
“I want to ask the contractors of every stage to involve the youth actively as they construct the roads that pass through the various constituencies since they will give them a platform to own the projects hence an opportunity for employment,” Mrs Ongoro said.
Assistant Minister for Roads Dr Wilfred Machage said the government was committed to improve urban transport infrastructure facilities in the country which was a major challenge to many developing countries towards economic development.
“We want Kenya to be among the fastest growing economies in Africa since Nairobi city is facing many urban problems caused by high population growth which is not matched with the development of infrastructure,” Mr Machage explained.
The government is also expanding the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Uhuru Highway, Museum Hill and Gigiri roads which are about 22 kilometers with an additional extra lane on both sides of the road, apart from improving the drainage system.