So construction on the eight-lane Thika Road highway is due to being on Monday. Three Chinese firms have been contracted at a cost of Ksh27 billion to build the road and have been warned by Acting Roads Minister Chris Obure that unneccessary delays will not be tolerated.
The new highway sounds swizzy, with underpasses, flyovers, pedestrian separators and interchanges instead of roundabouts. In addition, roads are to be replanned within Nairobi to ensure that major parking bays are outside the central business district (CBD) to cut down on congestion, while there is to be an expansion to the Outer Ring Road to bring Uhuru Highway and Mombasa Road up to a standard to cope with the new highway’s traffic. Mr. Obure has been busy!
But are Kenyans happy? Not if the comments in the linked Standard article are to be believed. Moaning about how China already has maglev trains and we don’t, bitching that the wrong road is being upgraded, even bringing tribalism into it! Kenneth Butichi in Oman and Marion Achola in Kenya, I’m looking at you. For shame.
Do I think that it should have been the Thika Road that got developed? Personally, no, as I have had a bee in my bonnet about what is supposed to be the Trans-African Highway since I was 12. But I understand why that wasn’t the first priority, as that would be enormously expensive and hugely disruptive.
The Thika Road project should be seen as a trial run to see if: a) we can trust the Chinese contractors to complete on time and on budget, and b) congestion on that particular route improves. If both these conditions are met, I’m sure that there are already other roads on the drawing board that will receive the Thika treatement, subject to funding.
[Image by FreeFotoUK]