China Road and Bridge Corporation is using its money to build Nairobi Expressway under an agreement with the government of Kenya. The contractor is allowing drivers to use the new road as a test before official opening. The road is 27 kilometres long. The expressway is expected to cut travelling time between James Gichuru, Nairobi city centre, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Athi River.
China Road and Bridge Corporation started building the road on September 2020. The cost of the road is about $600 million (Sh69.7 billion).
Mr James Macharia, cabinet secretary for Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, said the Nairobi Expressway is a private investment.
“The Kenya government has not committed any money on this investment, we have not borrowed a single cent of the total amount of about 600 million U.S. dollars,” he said. “The money which the government could have spent here has been now spent elsewhere.”
The minister said the road showed the benefits of partnerships between the government and private firms. Such partnerships free up government spending to be used on helping Kenyans, he said.
Mr Macharia said Kenyans must know that the road is a government and private partnership.
“This is the most important thing for Kenyans to know that this public-private partnership is so important, because first of all, you don’t borrow and it is not affecting our debt ratio,” he said.
How to use the expressway
Moja Expressway Company will operate the expressway and collect fees from the road users.
The expressway is a toll road, which means drivers must pay to use it. Ambulances, police vehicles, military vehicles and fire vehicles are allowed to use the expressway without paying.
Moja Expressway Company has barred from the road two-wheeled and three-wheeled motor vehicles. In addition, pedestrian, skater, bicycle, wheelbarrow, handcart, Tuk-Tuk, and motorcycle cannot use the expressway.
Testing the expressway for four weeks
Mr Ibrahim Doboshek, a motorist who took part in the trial run, said that the standards of the expressway were comparable to those in the advanced countries.
“I am so grateful because I used to take two to three hours on Mombasa Road due to traffic but today, I have used 10 minutes.”
Mr George Were, who lives in Kitengela town, which is about 30 kilometres southeast of Nairobi, said that the new expressway was very convenient and fast.
“I recommend guys to use it,” he said. “I know there’s the element of cost. I think it is really value for money because a journey that used to take two hours is now down to less than 20 minutes.”
Mr Macharia said 11,000 Kenyan road users have registered to use the road. He expects the number to rise to about 50,000.
Expressway came with jobs, business
The expressway had created more than 6,000 direct jobs during construction. It benefited 200 contractors and hundreds of other local suppliers of building materials such as steel, sand, cement, and ballast.
A new job has now emerged in Kenya – toll attendant on the expressway. There are more than 400 toll attendants working at the Nairobi Expressway.
Ms Rodah Mwenje Okoth, who works as a toll attendant at the Nairobi expressway, was trained for two months for the job.
“I’m really excited about this job because it impacts positively on the country’s development,” she said.
Ms Okoth said the road gave a lot of job opportunities to Kenyans while solving traffic congestion in the capital city.
(Reporting with Xinhua)