It is a big relief for the residents of the flood-prone Membley estate in Kiambu County after Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura) said it is reviewing the drainage design in the area.
Residents of the estate have for years appealed to Kura to improve the drainage system, saying that every time it rains pools of water and flooded roads characterise most parts of the estate.
Most of the residents blame the contractor of the Eastern Bypass for diverting water trenches that empty water to the estate making its roads impassable and houses inhabitable.
“Kura created the problem and should deal with it,” said Membley Park Residents Association chairman Antony Kung’u.
“Why bring stormwater from across the road to our estate? We are only asking them to correct a situation they created and which their resident engineer is aware of.”.
Catherine Wangari, a resident of Kisima said when she moved into the area they did not have any issues before the road was built.
“I moved here in 2007, but before the bypass was constructed we didn’t have such problems,” she said.
“The problem started when the bypass was built and they directed the culverts to the estate.”
Kura director-general Silas Kinoti in a letter dated November 22, 2021, and addressed to the residents said the agency had noted their concerns and that they were aware the terrain of the Eastern Bypass is such that the eastern side is on a higher level than the western side causing flooding in the estate.
“We are currently reviewing the drainage designs along the Eastern Bypass to see the possibility of mitigating the flooding of Membley Park Estate. Once the designs are finalised, you will be notified of the outcome,” Mr Kinoti said.
Residents hop, skip and jump through the puddles of water while businesses are interrupted as their entrances are blocked by the sudden “lakes”, with flood-prone areas submerged in water.
“When it rains, I cannot access my house as usual because of the flash floods, and I have to wait for the pools of water to submerge. This is crazy and something has to be done,” said Grace Maina.
“They have refused to divert water trenches that are emptying the water to the estate and making its roads impassable.”
Judy Kariuki, another resident, said they are living in fear of contracting waterborne diseases.
“The water might come into contact with our underground sewerage systems and if our children drink it, this could result in diseases like cholera,” said Ms Kariuki.
Kura is expanding the 28km road, which stretches through busy centres such as City Cabanas, Pipeline, Utawala and Ruiru and the work is being done by China Communication Construction Company Ltd.
Kura has not said when the project will be completed.
A spot check last weekend showed that the contractor had begun construction in Utawala, Embakasi and Membley.
Commercial and residential developments on the Eastern Bypass and Kangundo Road have piled pressure on the road, complicating the movement of people and goods on those routes.
Some of the areas that have seen an uptick in new projects are Kamakis, Utawala, Ruai, Kamulu, Joska, Malaa and Tala.
The bypass, one of the Vision 2030 infrastructure projects, was designed during the term of the Grand Coalition government.
The dualling of the road was announced by former Transport Cabinet Secretary Macharia Kamau in 2017 but took time to start as the government sought funds.
Mr Kamau said the road should have been constructed as a dual carriageway from the start.
The dualling of the road is one of 11 infrastructure projects that the Kenyan government delegation showcased to global investors during the two-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, China, in May 2017.
Others were the expansion of the Southern and Northern bypasses.
Chinese firms have increasingly won multibillion-shilling road contracts in Kenya. China Roads and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) is at the tail end of completing the Sh72 billion Nairobi Expressway.
CRBC is building the 27.1km double-decker highway with privately sourced funds to be recovered through toll charges by its subsidiary, Moja Expressway, which will operate the road for nearly 30 years.
Dualling the road will also boost the proposed Kenyatta family-owned Northlands City that will straddle the Eastern Bypass and Thika Road.
Northlands City, a mega-urban development consisting of residential, industrial and commercial buildings, will accommodate an estimated 250,000 people.
Easy access is key for attracting investors to the city, and that will bring up to 30,000 vehicles onto the Eastern Bypass and 27,000 onto Thika Road per day.