KENYAN motorists are upbeat as the ring road on the outskirts of the capital Nairobi nears completion.
The western bypass, which is currently under construction by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), consists of 15 km dual carriageway and 18 km of service roads with footpaths in selected sections. The road infrastructure project will be the final link of the Nairobi Ring Road Masterplan which includes the eastern, southern and northern bypasses.
The western bypass will link the southern bypass at Gitaru town to the northern bypass at Ruaka thereby eliminating the need for motorists to drive into the capital as they move between the two urban centers.
The Kenya National Highway Authority (KeNHA) says the infrastructure project is about 86 percent complete and is expected to be operational in September 2022. The construction of the road link began in July 2019 and is funded jointly by the Kenyan government and the Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim Bank).
According to KeNHA, the western bypass will reduce travel time along the highway as the speed limits will increase from 50 kilometers per hour to 80 kilometers per hour.
Edgar Nyamote, a 35-year-old entrepreneur, is one of the road users who is excited by the western bypass.
Nyamote said on Friday that he lives in Ruaka but has a textile shop in Gitaru town.
‘I currently take 40 minutes to move between Ruaka and Gitaru but with the new road I expect to cut the time on the road by half,’ he said.
James Macharia, cabinet secretary of the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, said that the western bypass will play a major role in reducing traffic congestion through the provision of a more modern alternative route between Nairobi and Kiambu county towns.
Macharia added that the western bypass will also cut commute time for motorists moving from the Rift valley to the central region of Kenya.
Everlyne Wambui, a mother of two children, said that driving between Gitaru and Ruaka is a time-consuming exercise especially during early morning and late evenings. ‘It is very difficult to plan for an appointment because you can’t predict the time you will arrive at your destination,’ Wambui added.
She says that once the western bypass is complete she will be able to spend more time with her children as the commute time will reduce.
Clement Obari, a taxi driver in Gitaru town, said that the western bypass will increase his income as he will be able to transport more clients with an expanded highway. ‘Currently, drivers make few trips because a lot of time is spent trying to navigate through traffic in the single-lane roads,’ Obari noted.
KeNHA anticipates that once the western bypass is complete, there will be an increase in the value of land along the road as the area becomes more attractive for diverse economic activities. It said that the road construction project has also resulted in socio-economic gains as currently about 1,500 locals have been directly employed while another 5,000 have also benefited indirectly.