, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 12 – President Mwai Kibaki has directed the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to ensure that all infrastructural projects uphold environment conservation.
President Kibaki stressed that construction and development projects should not translate to turning Kenya’s urban centres into concrete jungles.
He directed NEMA and other relevant government authorities to ensure that road contractors and private real estate developers always have a green environmental plan embedded in their projects.
The President ordered, “I direct that NEMA and other relevant authorities follow up on this issue so that beautiful greenery is part of our development process.”
He was speaking when he officially launched the construction of Nairobi Western Ring Roads at Likoni Lane, off Dennis Pritt Road.
During the occasion the President underlined that the Government wants urban roads network constructed to excellent standards to cater for the transportation needs of city residents and to facilitate rapid economic investments in urban areas.
President Kibaki also assured city residents and Kenyans in general that the Government was concentrating on tackling traffic congestion and was sparing no effort to improve motor vehicle traffic situation in Nairobi and other major urban centres in the country.
Said the President, “The construction of the Nairobi Western Ring roads is a demonstration of my government’s commitment to address traffic congestion.”
The Head of State noted that construction of the Nairobi Western Ring Roads is part of other projects that the Government was implementing in the city of Nairobi and other major urban areas to alleviate the worsening problem of traffic congestion.
Other completed and ongoing projects include the widening of Uhuru Highway and expansion of the Thika road to accommodate increased traffic, the President said.
In this regard the Head of State noted that the construction of the Nairobi Western Ring roads would further diversify traffic flow away from the main highway thus reducing congestion in the central business district.
He observed, “Other measures include construction of inter-changes and overpasses to streamline traffic flow and construction of the Nairobi Eastern and Northern bypasses to channel transit traffic away from the city centre.”
President Kibaki also expressed satisfaction that a Master Plan for Urban Transport had been finalized and also identified additional missing links for development.
The State disclosed, “Further, the government will be expanding Ngong and Outering roads to dual carriageway status. The expansion and improvement is expected to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion. I urge the Ministry for Roads to accord priority to implementation of these projects so as to ease traffic congestion in Nairobi.”
In addition to these efforts, the President noted that the government undertook a study on the introduction of a mass transit system within the Nairobi metropolitan area with the assistance of African Development Bank.
The study, the Head of State said, identified six corridors, Langata road, Ngong road, Mombasa road, Limuru road, Thika road and Waiyaki way that could be served by a Bus Rapid Transit System and a Light Rail Transit System or a combination of both.
President Kibaki called on the implementing ministries to develop the recommendations of the study so as to effectively deal with congestion in the city.
The Head of State assured, “Besides the city of Nairobi, the government is developing similar programmes to control traffic congestion in Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru and Eldoret. This is being done through planned construction of bypasses as well as dualing of high traffic road sections.”
He thanked the Government of Japan for financing the project to the tune of 1.9 billion shillings and commended the Ministry of Roads and the Kenya Urban Roads Authority for working hard to ensure that the project is implemented.
“I recall that we first discussed the financing of the link roads during my state visit to Japan in 2004. I am therefore happy that this project is now taking off,” President Kibaki reminisced.
On behalf of the Government and the people of Kenya, President Kibaki extended gratitude to the Government of Japan for being a dependable development partner.
The President acknowledged, “We are particularly grateful to the government of Japan for giving priority to this project despite the tragic earthquake that caused massive destruction of infrastructure in their country earlier this year.”
During the occasion President Kibaki observed that in some instances traffic jams were caused by impatient drivers who showed little or no courtesy for other road users.
He urged all road users and particularly motorists to observe basic principles of courtesy so as to make Kenyan roads safer for all and the Police to remain vigilant and firm in dealing with culprits who endangered the lives of innocent Kenyans through reckless driving.
The Head of State thanked all development partners for supporting Kenya in its efforts to develop the infrastructure in preparations to attain the targets under Vision 2030.
He expressed gratitude to the European Union for showing willingness to finance several additional Missing Link roads and to African Development Bank and the World Bank for financing various studies.
President Kibaki said, “I thank JICA for financing the study that identified various roads for development and improvement in order to address traffic congestion in Nairobi.”
Speaking during the occasion, Prime Minister Raila Odinga commended President Kibaki’s leadership which has seen landmark improvement in the country’s road network.
The Prime Minister observed that since the President came to office in 2003, the length of the country’s road network that has been upgraded to bitumen standards has doubled.
In this regard, the Prime Minister said the construction of the Western Ring roads to bitumen standards will not only help in decongesting the Nairobi city roads but will also reduce air pollution resulting from traffic congestion.
He thanked the Government of Japan for supporting Kenya’s infrastructural development despite suffering huge losses as a result of the earthquake that caused a massive tsunami.
Roads Minister Franklin Bett assured President Kibaki and Kenyans in general that resources allocated to his ministry for roads developoment ad maintenance will be utilised efficiently for the intended purposes.
He also assured that his ministry has put in place measures to alleviate the problem of traffic congestion in all cities and urban areas, especially Nairobi.
“Some of the targeted interventions in the city of Nairobi include the expansion of Langata Road through the construction of a dual carriage way from Kenya Wildlife Service gate to an inter-change at the Bomas junction,” Mr. Bett said.
The Minister added that the improvement of Mombasa Road, Uhuru Highway and Waiyaki way with a flyover and inter-change is on course.
On his part, Japanese Ambassador Toshihisa Takata pledged his Government’s continued support to Kenya’s infrastructural development as a true development partner.
Other speakers included Regional Development Minister Fred Gumo, who is also the area Member of Parliament, Nairobi Metropolitan Minister Njeru Githae and Roads Permanent Secretary Eng Michael Kamau among others.