The Nairobi Expressway: Changing Nairobi city’s skyline


The 27-kilometre Nairobi Expressway from Mlolongo in Machakos County through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to the city’s Westlands suburb was on Saturday, May 14 opened to the public.

Transport CS James Macharia said the road will not only decongest the city but also position the country as an investment destination.

Speaking during the opening of the expressway for a trial run, CS Macharia said that the road will positively impact mobility of Kenyans, visitors, businessmen and tourists

“We want to encourage investors to come to our country and see we have a conducive environment for investment,” said Macharia.

The trial phase will take three to four weeks. The project comprises a four-lane dual carriageway from Mlolongo to the Eastern Bypass and a six-lane dual carriageway from the Eastern Bypass to the Southern Bypass.

 It also has a four-lane dual carriageway from the Southern Bypass to St Mark’s Church in Westlands and a four-lane dual carriageway from St Mark’s Church to James Gichuru Road.

Initially, traveling from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to the city using the stretch took more than two hours. But with the completion of the project, it will take between 15 and 20 minutes to cover the 27-kilometre stretch, which starts from AIC, Mlolongo, all the way to James Gichuru on Waiyaki Way.

The project is being undertaken through the Build Operate Transfer contract. This means the contractor, China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), will build and operate the expressway for 27 years to recoup the money spent on construction.

CRBC is expected to make Sh106.8 billion in profit for the 27 years. After 27 years, CRBC will hand over the project to the Kenyan government.

Macharia said Kenyans have been eagerly waiting for the completion of the project.

“So for yesterday, we had 11,000 Kenyans registered and we are registering at a rate of 800 per day, which is massive,” he said. “More are expected to register,” he added.

Out of the 11,000 registered, 7,000 are paying using electronic means. Motorists have a choice to either make payment via Manual Toll Collection or Electronic Toll Collection methods. 

The CS encouraged all motorists using the road to use the electronic mode of payment to avoid congestion at toll stations.

CS Macharia said a census that was done at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport before the project started counted about 40,000 vehicles that were using the wrong side of Mombasa Road, causing traffic jams.

Traffic jams within the city are estimated to cost the country Sh2 billion annually.

The CS said the project is one of the best pieces of infrastructure ever done in Africa.

In fact, he said, it’s the longest expressway in Africa done through public-private partnership.

The CS said the government did not commit any money on the investment.

“We have not borrowed a single cent of the about $600 million, which is about Sh70 billion. This is a private investment and this is a good example of what the public-private partnership can do,” the CS said.

Macharia said the money that would have been spent on the project has been utilised to do 400 kilometres of roads in the slums. He praised the contractor for finishing the project in record time, saying it was supposed to be finished next year.

However, it has been completed one year ahead of schedule. Construction started in October 2019.

The CS said the old Mombasa Road from Mlolongo to Westland will also get a facelift.

The move, he said, is to ensure that motorists who do not use the expressway have a good road.

“We are finalising a contract of about Sh9 billion to make sure we enhance and beautify the old road,” the CS said.

The road rehabilitation will also factor in Bus Rapid Transit, the CS said. The upgrade and beautification will start in a few weeks. The drainage system and lighting along the road will be enhanced.

Under the plan, Macharia said, Westlands to Rironi and finally, Mau Summit road will also be upgraded. CS Macharia warned that those who destroy road infrastructure will be dealt with.

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