On July 16, 2020, Chinese firm Jiangxi Engineering Group commenced earthworks at Kenol market in Murang’a County to pave way for construction of Kenya's first uninterrupted 120km expressway.
Stretching through Kenol, Sagana and Marua in Nyeri county, the dual carriageway will 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.
Currently, the section from Kenol to the east and north-eastern part of the country is characterised by long traffic snarl ups, at times snaking all the way from Murang'a to Sagana.A aerial image of a dual carriage highway.File
The Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA), in its website, indicates that the road in its current status of single carriageway is an impediment to the flow of the high traffic experienced between Nairobi and Isiolo.
“An interchange will be constructed at Makutano as well as construction and improvement of trading centres along the project road,” KeNHA said in a statement.
The timeline for completion of the Kenol-Marua highway has been set at 36 months from the commencement date.
When finished, commuters heading north to Ethiopia as well as feeder towns will have a continual 120kms of road, a first in Kenya.
The second segment of the Kenol-Marua dual carriageway will include dualling of the 36km stretch from Sagana through Karatina to Marua.
According to the project report, the expressway will become a part of the 800km stretch from Nairobi to Moyale.
“Looking at the project, it will cut through at least six or seven counties and that will be a major boost to the region. This is a priority project for the government,” Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia stated during a press conference on June 2, 2019.
The total project cost is approximated at Ksh 32 billion, of which Ksh 22 billion (69%) will be financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB), while 12% will come from Africa Growing Together Fund, set up by the Bank and the People's Bank of China in 2014. The remaining 19% will be financed by the Kenyan government.
The bank's present portfolio in Kenya consists of 38 operations, totaling around Ksh 300 billion.
In the capital, Nairobi, the Jubilee government has been focusing on major road upgrades to tackle the daily traffic snarl ups.
The Director-General of the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) Silas Kinoti published a full list of all major roads in Nairobi set for upgrades.
According to the Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (NAMATA), traffic congestion in Nairobi costs Kenya approximately Ksh 100 billion a year.
In its 2019 report, NAMATA further stated that the capital was ranked as the world’s fourth most congested city hosting more than 3 million people, the average travel time in the city is 57 minutes.Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia with contractors of the Kenol-Marua dual carriageway, July 2020.File
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