Shipping & Logistics

'Magic road' that’s driving Kajiado’s economic boom

marikiti-s

Traders selling onions at Marikiti Market in Nairobi on March 30, 2021. A net of 20 kg is Ksh 1000 and 50kg is Ksh 3000. They source them from Nyeri, Nanyuki, Kajiado and Tanzania. PHOTO | LUCY WANJIRU | NMG

Summary

  • Driving along the new 70 kilometre Ngong-Suswa road, the drastic tansformation that is underway is hard to miss.
  • The tarmac road meandering across the terrains running parallel to Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line has emerged as a crucial business artery with Kajiado Governor Joseph Ole Lenku des it a “magic road.”

Driving along the new 70 kilometre Ngong-Suswa road, the drastic tansformation that is underway is hard to miss. From uncoming shopping centres to residential buildings under construction and buzzing shopping centres, the road has become the springboard of development since construction started in 2018.

The tarmac road meandering across the terrains running parallel to Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line has emerged as a crucial business artery with Kajiado Governor Joseph Ole Lenku des it a “magic road.” Other residents describe the road in equally effusive terms.

“This road is a saviour to us. We can now access either Ngong, Kiserian or Ewaso Kedong markets with much ease, increasing our profits,” said Nancy Kinyua, a vegetables farmer.

Before its construction, farmers like Ms Kinyua we at the mercy of brokers who could afford the high transport costs on the rough road. Today, the improved road has revived agriculture in region and agribusiness in Kibiko,Kimuka and Nachu is booming. Locals are growing onions and tomatoes in large scale, which has seen Kajiado emerge as a major supplier of tomatoes in Nairobi.

With improved market access, new urban centres along the route have been mashrooming. Now, the road that has come with a boom to the locals has seen mushrooming. Those that had earlier been deserted are slowly coming to life as investors eye the economic boom.

A spot check by Shipping and Logistics showed that businesses are flourishing in Ngong, Kibiko, Kimuka, Nachu, Ewaso Kedong, SGR inland container deport (ICD), and Suswa shopping centres. Various real estate developers are currently putting up residential homes. Discovery of underground water towers during construction of the SGR tunnel has been an attractive value proposition for investors looking to tap into real estate, especially in Kimuka and Nachu.

But the new development wind is not only blowing in shopping centres and farms. The native Maasai community is all praise for the road that has brought livestock markets closer to them. Livestock traders are now able to access far flung villages for the best cattle.

“The road has come with ‘goodies’ including increase of livestock prices. With traders able to access rural villages in Kajiado West sub-county, demand has shot up increasing livestock prices. We will no longer sell our livestock at a loss,” said John Lankas, a herder.

Amid all this development, transporters too have seen the business opportunity and several public service vehicle operators have shown interest in plying the route.

And as is expected whenever new areas open up, lands prices have increased by more than 50 per cent in the last two years. In 2018 Kajiado County Land Prices Report indicated that Ngong town closed 2017 at an average of Sh18.9 million per acre. This was up from Sh10.3 million at the close of 2012.

"An acre in Ngong town is selling between Sh20 million to Sh25 million.Along the new Ngong- Suswa road, an acre is selling between Sh400,000-Sh600,000 from Sh250,000 two years ago. We hope post Covid-19 pandemic prices will shot up further," said John letula, a Ngong-based land broker.

Governor Ole Lenku, who is also the Kajiado-Narok economic bloc chairperson, said the road will be a major regional driver.

"This is a "magic road" to our people.It has brought to an end long suffering and boosted the region economically. It is a major business artery in Kajiado-Narok economic bloc," said Lenku.

The road build under the annuity programme is expected to be complete by December. However, Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) has raised a red flag as overloaded trucks ferrying construction materials in the region and heavy cargo trailers take to the road after diverting at Mai Mahiu.

KeRRA has introduced mobile weigh bridges but truck drivers remain evasive and opt to operate at night.

“We are working with other government agencies to safeguard the road from overloaded trucks. The much anticipated economic windfall can only be realised when the road is well maintained,” KeRRA Kajiado Regional Director Engineer Timothy Karanja.