Due to the successful completion of the road, commuters are enjoying faster, reliable, comfortable and more affordable journeys. The 50km, KES 35 billion (US$418million) Nairobi -Thika Superhighway, officially opened in November 2012 by former President Kibaki, will contribute greatly into transforming Kenya into a strong economic hub for the region and beyond. The transformation of the road into a super highway is one of Kenya’s first large-scale transportation infrastructure projects.
The Government of Kenya through Kenya National Highway Authority (KeNHA) embarked on a grand project to have the Nairobi to Thika road expanded from a four lane highway to an eight lane superhighway. The road, which is part of the classified international trunk road A2, originates in downtown Nairobi and extends to Moyale at the Ethiopian border. It is also an important link on the Great North Trans African highway -that traverses from Cape Town in South Africa to Cairo in Egypt- one of the highest priorities in the NEPAD short-term action plan.
The highway had earlier been constructed to bitumen standard in the early 1970’s and re-sealed with an overlay in the early 1990’s.After rigorous feasibility and capacity studies, it was esteemed to be operating beyond capacity, carrying more than 60,000 vehicles per day.
Due to this stress on the road surface, its condition deteriorated rapidly, thus requiring rehabilitation and a redesign to factor the increased traffic along the route. The initial planning and diagnostic studies of the inadequacies of the road were done within the context of the Nairobi Metropolitan Area Urban Transport Plan (NMUPT). The study was commissioned by the Government in 2004 with funding from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The findings highlighted the inadequate urban transportation infrastructure and system with particular mention of the extremely poor service level and shortage of capacity along the Nairobi-Thika corridor.
The section that was earmarked for expansion serves traffic from the built up areas of Kiambu, Muthaiga, Kasarani and its environs, Kahawa and its environs, Pangani, Ngara,Thika, Juja, Muranga and beyond.
In 2007, the government solicited a financial assistance of the Tunis-based African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, who gave a nod following an appraisal of the project in the same year.
Lot 1 and Lot 2 was jointly financed by an AfDB (African Development Bank) loan and grant, and the Government of Kenya. Lot 3 has been financed by EXIM Bank of China and the Government of Kenya.
Objectives of the project
The overall objectives of the project are to: Improve road transport services along the Nairobi-Thika corridor and enhance urban mobility by reducing traffic congestion,Enhance the accessibility, affordability and reliability of the transport infrastructure system to promote socio-economic development of the country, Contribute to the development of a sustainable urban public transit system for the Nairobi Metropolitan Area, Improve land transport between Kenya and Ethiopia and contribute to regional integration, Promote private sector participation in the management, operation and financing of road infrastructure in Kenya
Implementation of the Project
To accommodate the existing and future traffic, the highway was redesigned to include construction of additional lanes, and strengthening of existing carriageway, underpass and overpass in some sections and removal of intersections at several locations to be replaced by interchanges.
The contract for its improvement was divided into three lots to heighten its implementation.
Lot 1 comprise of three city arterial connector; Connector 1: Running from Museum Hill Interchange through Forest Road to Muthaiga. The works involved widening of Forest Road to six lanes from four lanes, widening of Museum Hill road to six lanes and provision of fly-over on Limuru Road.
Connector 2: Runs from University way, through Pangani to end at Muthaiga. The works involved widening of University Way to eight lanes from six, constructing a four lane fly over across Globe Roundabout, widening of Murang’a Road to six lanes, an underpass, overpass and foot bridge at Pangani and an interchange to replace the Muthaiga roundabout.
Connector 3: Haile Selassie Avenue – Race course road & Ring Road Ngara from Uhuru Highway to Pangani Interchange.
Lot 2: The Muthaiga roundabout-Kenyatta University (KU) section was designed as a high-speed highway with limited access and exits. The improvements on this section included widening of carriageway to eight lanes- (between Muthaiga and Kasarani) and 6 lanes (from Kasarani to Kenyatta University).
Lot 3: Starting from Kenyatta University-Thika. The works involved widening the carriageway to six lanes up to Juja and maintaining the existing provision of service roads, construction of a flyover at the Eastern Bypass and an underpass at Ruiru sports club.
The project has also provides service roads intermittently, construction of underpasses at Kahawa and KU, provision of interchange at former GSU roundabout, flyovers at Kasarani and Githurai roundabouts, underpass at former Nakumatt Thika Road site and a subway at Survey of Kenya.
The project has provided for 18 pedestrian crossings spread across the entire projects. The crossings are strategically located around highly built areas where there is a lot of crossings by pedestrians crossing points have facilities to accommodate persons with disabilities.
To enhance road safety, the project has installed gantry road signs, flexi beam guard rails, world class road markings and other road furniture. The project has employed the use of non-scrap value fiber for the road signs on a pilot basis. The public has been urged to desist from vandalizing these furniture.
As part of initiative to go green, solar powered street lights have been installed on a pilot basis along Forest Road. Further, comprehensive landscaping has been carried out to make the road aesthetically appealing. The works were implemented in 3 three Contract Lots:
Benefits of the Project
The main beneficiaries are predominantly the people living along the route, especially commuters who work in secondary and tertiary sectors in the Central Business District. The majority of commuters use public transportation especially small minibuses (Matatus) which account for more than 30percent of traffic congestion in the city.
Over 89,500 people residing in Kasarani, Kiambu and Thika are on wage employment and another 125,000 are in the informal sector the majority of whom have to commute to Nairobi. Other distinct groups of commuters are students, health patients, shoppers and traders (formal and informal).
There are 2 public universities established along the road, Kenyatta University and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agricultural Technology (JKUAT) with several students who attend part-time programs, and who will greatly benefit from an efficient transportation system.
Currently, due to the successful completion of the road, commuters are enjoying faster, reliable, comfortable and more affordable journeys’. The journey between the two towns that hitherto used to take 2to 3 hours can now be tacked in 30-45 minutes.
The impact is also realized beyond the project route on the entire A2 as you travel towards Isiolo, Marsabit ,Moyale and into Ethiopia, being part of the multinational Great North Road.
The project is also important for enhancing regional growth and integration. It also connects to the main Northern Corridor that runs from Mombasa-Uganda-DRC at the Museum Hill Interchange.
In addition, the corridor doubles as one of the most important economic corridor and will have impetus on the growth of the country. As conceptualized in the feasibility and detailed engineering project report, lots of development in the form of Real Estate, industrial expansion, agricultural growth, learning institutions etc. are already being witnessed. The construction of access-control corridor has not only reduced road congestions remarkably but also reduced pollution resulting from vehicles fumes emissions.
CONTRACTORS: LOT 1: M/S China Wu Yi Company Ltd.
LOT 2: M/S Synohydro Corporation Ltd.
LOT 3: M/S Shengli Engineering Construction Group Co. Ltd.
PROJECT MANAGER: Apec Consulting Engineers
SUSTAINABLE DESIGN CONSULTANT:
PLUMBING AND DRAINAGE ENGINEER:
PROJECT DURATION: 2009-2012