A team of religious leaders in Makueni County has opposed the proposed Sh300 billion Mombasa-Nairobi expressway.
The 525-kilometre road with 22 interchanges, expected to run largely parallel to Mombasa-Nairobi highway, according to available design maps seen by Shipping, will be the first expressway in Kenya.
The clerics, however, said an expressway will deprive areas bordering the proposed road the opportunities which come with a major road. These include the growth of roadside towns and businesses.
“An expressway will condemn the regions where the road passes into underdevelopment,” they said in statement read by Reverend Jackson Muema of Kambu Baptist church.
The clerics drawn from the National Council of Churches of Kenya, Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, Muslim community, Hindus, and Seventh Day Adventists, want the government to expand the current Mombasa-Nairobi highway into a dual carriage instead of building the expressway "so as to open up business opportunities by the roadside".
They spoke after a two-day meeting at Wote Town where they deliberated on the economic status of the county and the country.
They said the standard gauge railway which cuts across the county, has contributed to dwindling economic fortunes of the region. Traders in Mtito Andei Town have decried reduced business prospects due to the new railway line.
The expressway is expected to rival the standard gauge railway line on speed.
American company, Bechtel, won the contract for the ambitious project in a government-to-government deal which formed part of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s discussions with President Donald Trump last year.
Uncertainty has, however, rocked the project which was expected to have started by June.