The key to the growth of any economy lies in investments in infrastructure. And in all this, transport infrastructure plays a critical role and is the key in transforming the lives of people as it facilitates easy movement of goods and people within an economy. There is no question that President Kenyatta and the Jubilee government have invested heavily in roads, investments that in so many ways have transformed the movements of goods and people within the country. Former president Mwai Kibaki is credited for setting in motion the plan to invest in our roads, the most important road that defines his tenure as the president being Thika road. But, what road projects will define the tenure of President Kenyatta?
Standard gauge railway (SGR)
Say what you may, but the most important infrastructural project that will forever define the Uhuru presidency will always be the construction of the Nairobi – Mombasa standard gauge railway line (SGR). SGR was one of the inaugural projects of the jubilee government and connects the city of Mombasa and the capital Nairobi.
The 578km railway has in so many ways revolutionized the port of Mombasa and movement along Mombasa- Nairobi highway. According to the Star, SGR operator–Africa Star Railway Operation Company (Afristar) runs 11 cargo trains a day between the Port of Mombasa and the Inland Container Depot–Nairobi, with operations stretching to the Naivasha container depot.
Since the launch of freight services, in January 2018, over 1.14 million TEUs have been moved on the SGR mainly to Nairobi, with a year-on-year increase of 10.8 per cent in volume.
Meanwhile, Madaraka Express, the passenger arm of the SGR operations, has transported over 4.86 million passengers since its launch in June 2017, with 1,311 days of safe operations.
Despite all the local criticism of the project , most of which is unfounded, there is no question that investment in the SGR came at the right time, and for long it is going to be the backbone for the development of the entire country. Just imagine how chaotic Mombasa road would be today if it were not for SGR?
The 27-km dual carriageway from Mlolongo in Machakos to James Gichuru road in Westlands is being financed and built by China Roads and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), which will try and recoup its investment and make a profit through toll charges.
The expressway, will reduce the travel time from Athi river from 2 hours to 15 minutes. apart from that, the expressway will be a refreshing sight on the Nairobi skyline. The socio-economic justification for upgrading the city traffic artery through Uhuru Highway has never been in question and is mainly justified by time-cost of persons, vehicle and goods stranded in traffic snarl-ups. There is also the foreign exchange wasted as imported fuel is wastefully burned by idling vehicles, and incremental carbon dioxide and particulate emissions which impact the environment. There is also reputational cost to the country when fly-in visitors are stranded for hours in traffic gridlocks. with this, the expressway is justified in every way. Just like Kibaki is remembered for Thika superhighway, Uhuru’s presidency will be remembered most importantly for this project
Nairobi – Nakuru -Mau summit expressway
The construction of a new Sh160 billion toll highway from Nairobi to Mau Summit is expected to begin in October next year after Kenya signed a commercial agreement with French consortium Vinci.
The project will expand the two-lane Nairobi to Mau Summit highway into a 4-lane dual carriageway.
The project will also involve widening of the existing Rironi- Mai Mahiu–Naivasha road to become a seven-metre carriageway with two-metre shoulders on both sides, construction of a 4Km elevated highway through Nakuru town, and construction and improvement of interchanges along the highway.
“The Rironi–Nakuru–Mai Mahiu road forms a vital part of the most important transport corridor in Kenya — the Northern Corridor— which originates in Mombasa and terminates in Malaba. It also serves traffic destined to Narok, South Western Kenya and Northern Tanzania.
Dongo kundu bridge/bypass
The 8.96-km dual carriageway project, expected to cost Sh25 billion, involves construction of an interchange at the Likoni-Lunga Lunga highway and erection of two bridges: one at Mwache – spanning 660 metres, and another at Mteza straddling 1,440 metres.
According to the director-general of KENHA Peter Mundinia, the Mteza Bridge is seven times longer than Nyali (bridge) and it will reduce costs and time used to cross over to and from South Coast. It will also serve the Dongo Kundu Special Economic Zone.
Mwache Bridge is designed to land on the Tsunza peninsula in Kwale County where it will connect with the Mteza Bridge – which will complete the South Coast mainland connection.
Billed as the most efficient road network in Kenya’s history, the entire project is expected to be complete by 2024.
Mau Mau road
The construction of the 540km Mau Mau road that will traverse the counties of Kiambu, Murang’a, Nyeri and Nyandarua is already on course. The 30 billion highway will traverse the Aberdares Belt and adjacent areas.
Christened Mau Mau road, the new motorway will start at Gataka in Limuru, and then traverse through Kamahindu and Kibichoi in Kiambu County before negotiating its way through Kinyona in Kigumo and Ichichi in Kangema, Murang’a County.
The road, which is under the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA), will then pass through tens of market centres in Murang’a and Nyeri before ending at Njengu in Nyeri County where it will join the Nyeri-Nyahururu road.
There will also be a link road to Njabini in Nyandarua County, and to Naivasha. There will be another link road from Kimende to Mai Mahiu, according to the road agency.
Isiolo – Moyale highway
They refer to it as the road that made them Kenyans.
The ‘great north road’, also known (less romantically) as the A2, links Nairobi, and the rest of East Africa, with Ethiopia. It does so by traversing some of the most dramatic and inhospitable parts of the northern half of Kenya. The 507kms between Isiolo and Moyale take you through the Kaisuit Desert, over 1500m of volcanic mountain (topped by thick forest) and on through the Dida Galgalu Desert and the Shinil Plains, before climbing again into the low hills around Moyale, where the road passes into Ethiopia.
The Isiolo-Moyale highway is also a key plank of the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia (LAPSSET) Corridor Project. An economic and transport corridor that stretches from Lamu port in the coastal Kenya to South Sudan and Ethiopia.
Travel time between Moyale (Kenya/Ethiopia border town) and Nairobi reduced from about 3 days down to 10 hours. Previously, bus travelers made two-night stopovers during the journey from Moyale to Nairobi. The first at Marsabit and the second at Isiolo, arriving in Nairobi on the evening of the third day.
Dualing of Kenol- Muranga-Marua road
According to an African Development Bank (AFDB) report, The Kenol – Sagana – Marua Road is part of the “Great North Road” from Mombasa, through Nairobi and on to Moyale – and hence to Ethiopia and Addis Ababa. It forms part of the 800km stretch between Nairobi and Moyale and is situated in the five counties of Muranga, Kirinyaga, Machakos, Embu, and Nyeri. The road starts at the junction with C71 (Kenol) and traverses through the trading centers of Makutano (Junction A2/B6), Sagana, Karatina before terminating at Marua.
The dualing of the Kenol-Sagana-Nyeri-Marua road will form Kenya’s first uninterrupted expressway. The road, which is already under construction, stretches Kenol, Sagana and Marua in Nyeri county, the dual carriageway is meant to connect the Northern Corridor to Thika and Nairobi, with the ongoing Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (LAPSSET) project. According to a project report, about 1.15 million people will benefit from the upgraded highway, with the beneficiaries highlighted as farmers, manufacturers, and traders, who will save time and money, thanks to improved access on the main corridor to the north. The road, that is meant to ultimately connect to LAPSET at Isiolo will see another dual carriageway cut through Makutano, Mwea, Embu, Chuka, and Meru to Isiolo making it one of the largest infrastructural projects in our countries history.
No country can be strong economically without such important infrastructural project, and among others, the Jubilee administration will be remembered for its ambitious infrastructural projects. apart from roads, investment on ports (Lamu, Mombasa and Kisumu), Electricity and airports have also received heavy investments.