The construction of the first phase of Ngong Road is nearing completion.
The project is being implemented as part of the Nairobi Roads Network Improvement Programme, whose endgame is the expansion, rehabilitation and re-carpeting of most roads within the capital. Nairobi is a key gateway and window into Kenya. The city, East Africa’s biggest, has established its firm credentials as a fast-growing regional commercial and logistics hub.
The three-phase project is partly financed by the Government of Japan though JICA. Phase I refers to the 2.5km stretch between the Kenya National Library Service and Prestige Plaza. The project is set for completion later in the year. Phase II is financed through grant aid from Japan through JICA.
It covers 3.3km linking Prestige Plaza to Dagoretti Corner, while Phase III is Dagoretti Corner-Karen Roundabout, the Karen Road Section and the Lang’ata Road Section. The section is funded fully by the government and is expected to be ready in July 2019. The contractor is mobilising.
Phase I, which is being built by World Kaihatsu Kogyo Company Ltd for Sh1.3 billion, includes a four-lane dual carriageway, three intersections, walkways and cycle tracks on both sides of the road, a box culvert, drainage facilities and bus bays.
Ngong Road, whose reconstruction was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in February last year, is unique. Its traffic gridlocks are legend. Besides having one of the highest concentrations of vehicular traffic, a factor that has delayed ongoing works, it also connects a populous and growing catchment area. It carries traffic to and from the CBD and passes through the rapidly growing commercial and residential districts of Upper Hill, Kilimani/Hurlingham, Woodley, Jamhuri and Lavington.
Its catchment extends beyond Nairobi’s western suburbia into the peri-urban satellite towns of Ngong, Karen, Kawangware, Riruta Satellite, Kikuyu and Uthiru, with their fast-growing populations.
The dualling of Ngong Road will decongest the CBD, reduce travel time, improve road safety, stimulate socioeconomic development in the served areas and reduce air pollution from many slow-moving vehicles.
The urban component of ongoing roadworks is implemented through the Kenya Urban Roads Authority as the anchor agency. However, the overall national road network improvement effort is the product of concerted efforts by other agencies under the leadership and guidance of the Department of Infrastructure to institutionalise an efficient, functional and sustainable road network countrywide. These agencies are the Kenya Rural Roads Authority and Kenya National Highways Authority.
The Nairobi Roads Network Improvement Programme is part of a conscious strategy by the Jubilee administration to improve the road network in all parts of the county as a lever for catalysing socioeconomic development. A number of key projects have been completed and commissioned and their impact is already being felt across the city.
Given the inter-modal nature of transport as an enabler of socioeconomic takeoff, the road network being put together by the national government through Kura, Kenha and Kerra, can only work if it is part of an efficient, well maintained and sustainable road network. A good artery road will only be as efficient as the smaller feeder roads that supply it with both human and vehicular traffic.
The building and maintenance of an efficient national road network requires concerted efforts by all the relevant authorities and cannot be left to the national government alone. As the Department of Infrastructure and Kura, Kerra and Kenha get down to revitalise a few shortcomings of a national road network previously beset by design inefficiencies through the adoption of modern, world-class design, equipment and technology, all hands must be on deck.
It is important that the county governments play their part. The Nairobi government, for instance, would greatly help the national and city socioeconomic development cause by doing its bit and ensuring the small roads under its jurisdiction, the ones that feed into major arteries such as Ngong Road, are in a good, serviceable state.
author is the acting director general of Kura.