Uhuru Highway in Nairobi is set for a major makeover even as the government continues to receive bids for the design and construction of the planned 53-kilometre Jomo Kenyatta International Airport -Rironi thoroughfare.
A preliminary artistic impression seen by the Business Daily captures the makeover expected to ease congestion in the city and its environs.
The section between Nyayo National Stadium and the Museum Hill interchange would have an elevated road with two lanes on each side.
The stretch would also have additional special lanes to accommodate a special bus rapid transport system (BRT) that will run from JKIA to Kikuyu on the outskirts of the city.
The BRT route will be a single carriageway and will run in the middle section of the highway from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to Kikuyu.
The 18-kilometre section between Uthiru and Rironi is also to be rehabilitated while the Airport South Road will be turned into a dual carriageway with access roads to the Inland Container Depot at Embakasi, according to plans by the Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha), the project implementer.
The actual design of the road project jointly funded by the government and the World Bank will be known soon when submission of bids closes on January 31.
The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) on Wednesday invited views on the planned road project, saying the public have 30 days to make submissions.
The JKIA-Rironi road is expected to supplement another planned project known as the Nairobi Metropolitan Mass Rapid Transport System (MRTS) that will entail the construction of a 167-kilometre exclusive public road and rail transport grid that would link the city centre with key neighbouring towns and municipalities such as Kikuyu, Thika, Ruiru, Athi River, Kitengela, Machakos, Limuru and Kajiado.
According to proposals to the government, the project would be implemented along nine road corridors namely; Nairobi Railway Station (NRS)-Ruiru-Thika, NRS-Juja Road-Kangundo, NRS-Jomo Kenyatta Airport-Athi River, NRS-Langata Road-Karen and NRS-Upper Hill-Ngong.
Other corridors to be covered by the project will include NRS-Kabete-Kikuyu, NRS-Gigiri- Limuru and Outer Ring Roads in city’s Eastland’s area.
The present Nairobi Railway Station area, including the yards, has been proposed for the construction of a 24-storey central hub terminal for the MRTS in that all lines would originate or terminate at this point or traverse through it.
The blueprint showed the road network would be serviced by an exclusive closed rapid bus system complete with special feeder services. The special bus routes would run alongside the normal highways except within the Central Business District (CBD) where it would be elevated.
An estimated 378 buses would be required to operate this exclusive route service by 2015 with fares estimated at between Sh2 and Sh2.50 per passenger per kilometre.
On the part of rail transport, the entire network is proposed to be on an elevated platform with a total of 76 stations and five maintenance depots to service passenger needs.
Phase one of the MRTS project would cover the corridors along Thika Road I, Juja Road, Jogoo Road, Ngong Road 1, Limuru Road and Mombasa In the second phase, work would be carried out on Outer Ring Road, Thika II, Waiyaki Way, Ngong Road II, Thika Road III and Lang’ata Road.
The consultants, Consult Engineering Services of India and its Kenyan partner APEC Limited, said the project may require some highways upgraded to between four and eight lane dual carriage with exclusive lanes for the rapid transport bus system.
Statistics by the Transport ministry showed that major roads within Nairobi such as Thika Road, Outering Road, Uhuru Highway, Haile Selassie Road, Mbagathi Way, Lang’ata Road and Waiyaki Way are used on average by 80,000 vehicles every day— which is way beyond their design capacity.
The Nairobi City commuter train currently carries about 19,000 passengers everyday which also way below the estimated demand of 90,000 passengers.