, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 16 – President Mwai Kibaki has officially launched the construction work for the Southern Bypass estimated to cost Sh17 billion.
The 30-kilometer dual carriageway road project, President Kibaki said, is an initiative by the Government to provide an alternative route for transit vehicles destined to western parts of Kenya or the coast region without passing through the Nairobi Central Business District.
The President noted that the project was being financed through a concessionary loan from the Government of the People’s Republic of China and funding from the Government of Kenya.
With regard to Government’s commitment to addressing traffic congestion in the city President Kibaki disclosed that expansion work along the busy Langata and Magadi roads had commenced to rehabilitate and upgrade the vital highway.
The expansion and upgrading of Lang’ata road is scheduled to be completed by mid next year and is expected to improve traffic flow for vehicles accessing the city centre from Ngong, Karen, Ongata Rongai and Kiserian towns, the Head of State disclosed.
During the occasion the President appreciated the urgency required in addressing traffic congestion so as to curtail its negative impact on the country’s economic growth projections.
Said the Head of State, “The Government is concerned about the high vehicle congestion on some of our roads, particularly in the major urban centres. We recognise that this situation must be addressed urgently to stem the adverse impact on the growth of our economy.”
He regretted that the numerous hours spent in traffic jams translated to additional cost of doing business hence eroding market competitiveness as well as undermining the productivity of workers and even the quality of the country’s environment.
In this regard, President Kibaki listed various measures the government was implementing to address traffic congestion among them improvement of the road surface and widening of some of the roads to streamline traffic flow and modernization of main accesses to the city.
The President stressed, “Besides the widening of roads, the Government is implementing the Missing Links projects. To this end, I launched the first phase of the project involving construction of the Nairobi Western Ring Roads. The project is due for completion later this year.”
President Kibaki emphasised that the problem of congestion also affected other major urban centres such as Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret and Nakuru adding that the Government was actively pursuing measures to address the problem in those cities and towns too.
He disclosed, “For instance, I recently commissioned construction of a six and a half kilometre bypass for Kisumu City at an estimated cost of over
Sh5.7 billion. In Mombasa, studies are underway for construction of a bypass commonly known as the Dongo Kundu bypass.”
The President, however, regretted that despite the impressive achievements in the road network improvement countrywide, road safety remained major concern and expressed sadness at the increased road accidents caused by reckless driving by motorists and boda boda riders.
He directed the relevant government agencies to accord road safety high priority particularly the traffic police department and to deal firmly with drivers or riders who contravene traffic rules.
The Head of State asserted, “We must bring order on our roads as this will save lives.”
President Kibaki further registered his disappointed over the regular vandalism of road furniture such as road signs and guard rails installed for the safety of motorists and other road users.
He ordered, “I direct the police to apprehend those behind these criminal activities.”
During the occasion he underscored the need for regular maintenance of the country’s road network by putting in place mechanisms for proper and timely repairs to avoid the huge costs of reconstruction of the existing roads.
During the occasion, President Kibaki thanked the Chinese Government for supporting the project and further commended the Ministry of Roads for initiating the construction on time.
Speaking during the occasion, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka thanked President Kibaki for his steadfast support to infrastructure development across the country.
The Vice-President said the improved road infrastructure was one of the many legacies that the country has benefited from President Kibaki’s leadership.
On his part, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the upgrading of the country’s outdated infrastructure is a key component of the Government’s plan to reignite the economy, boost job creation and keep Kenya competitive in the 21st Century.
The Prime Minister, however, cautioned that the rebuilding of the infrastructure requires respect for physical planning around the country and the by-laws of cities and towns.
“What was meant for roads must be left for road,” the Prime Minister emphasised, adding that road reserves are not idle no matter how long they remain unused.
Other speakers included Roads Minister Franklin Bett, Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Liu Guangyuan and Roads Permanent Secretary Eng. Michael Kamau.