By Maimuna Naima
One of the biggest challenges a developing city faces is traffic congestion. According to Institute of Economic affairs 2021, a total of Ksh 60 billion is lost in daily as a result of traffic and reduced productive hours on the road. In Nairobi like most cities, one can spend hours on the road because of traffic and this makes moving around this city such a headache.
While successive administrations have tried in vain to decongest the city, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s pet infrastructural project, the Nairobi Expressway offers the boldest solution to the historical traffic congestion in Mombasa road which is the gateway to Kenya as it leads to and from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. This road which begins from Mlolongo through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and Nairobi’s CBD to Westlands area along Waiyaki Way is the first major Public-Private Partnership [PPP] infrastructural project to be implemented in Kenya.
The Sh88 billion dual carriageway which is a partnership between the Kenya government and the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) is expected to reduce the time spent on Mombasa Road during rush hour from about two hours to between 10 and 15 minutes as well as provide the much needed resources to pay off the debt and maintain the road. CCCC will operate the highway for the first 27 years to recover construction costs and thereafter transfer the same to the Kenya National Highways Authority.
This beautiful infrastructure however comes at a high cost to the cost to common motorist who are expected to pay a fee in order to access it. In addition to that, motorists are also expected to follow strict guidelines including fines levied to those who may cause destruction to any component of the road through vandalism or accidents. These include staying sober while driving, minimizing mobile phone usage and not making stops within the Expressway to avoid obstructions. There is also a speed limit of 80 km/h and motorists who will exceed the speed limit will be penalised in accordance with the traffic law.
With the current economic challenges facing citizens after the Covid-19 pandemic that almost crippled our economy, the cost of using the road and related fines may be out of reach to most city dwellers and thus may just opt to use the current roads most of which may not be in the best conditions.
It is also expected that Public Service Vehicles including taxis will charge extra fares to the 68.1 % of Kenyans who use public transport to be ferried through the expressway.
Since the common citizens may not afford to access it daily, the Expressway will most probably cater for the well-off citizens and most politicians who are able to pay for the toll fee. On the other hand, those who can afford it will be able to get where they need to be on time, hence justifying the payment. Other than that, motorists are expected to observe certain safety measured while using the Expressway.
The Expressway also adds an appealing look to the city of Nairobi giving ttourists arriving through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport a beautiful view of the city from the comfort of their cars. The Nairobi Expressway will put Kenya on the list of Africa’s quality roads just like Namibia which was ranked first position in 2019.
The writer is a Communication and PR student at Rongo University and an intern at the Global Peace Foundation Kenya Email: firstname.lastname@example.org