Residents of Machakos who ply the Nairobi-Mombasa highway have expressed their joy following the Kenya National Highway Authority’s (KeNHA) move to open some of the lanes in Mlolongo and Syokimau areas.
The traffic frequent snarl up owing to the ongoing construction of the Nairobi Expressway has for several months been an issue of major concern for motorists who have on various occasions been forced to spend the night along the highway.
KeNHA released a statement announcing the opening of some lanes at Syokimau and Mlolongo area that were previously closed to allow the construction works of the 21.1 km expressway which starts at Mlolongo and stretches James Gichuru/Waiyaki way junction.
Mr Josephat Mutua a bus driver with Manatwa Sacco which plies the Machakos- Nairobi route says that it is a relief for drivers since they have always had a rough time making sure that their passengers reach their destinations on time due to the daily traffic jam.
“We are happy for the new opening of lanes, at least the traffic jam is going to be reduced and managed well by our traffic officers, I can testify that it has not been easy for the drivers,” said Mutua.
Another resident, Angela Mueni, who operates a business at Gateway Mall estate, narrates that the traffic jam has been distressful where she has at times arrived in her house very late at night.
Ms Mueni, who spoke to KNA, said that she appreciates the move by KeNHA for listening to the pleas of the road users and honoring their promise.
“I live in Machakos town and operate a business at Gateway Mall in Syokimau, I have spent sleepless nights along Mombasa Road, am now happy that more lanes have been opened to ease the movement between Mlolongo and Syokimau.
In the statement, the authority also improved two-directional U-turns at various points such as Allpack Company near Mlolongo Weighbridge as well as widening of diversion points at Gateway Mall area in a concerted effort to ease vehicle movement.
KeNHA Communications Officer, Sam Kumba, noted that the heavy traffic was made worse by overlapping motorists who he urged to adhere to the traffic rules.
KeNHA also announced that the Nairobi Expressway stands at 64.8 per cent completion rate with the construction of the operation and monitoring center at 98 per cent.
The Sh65 billion Expressway, which is the first expressway built in East and Central Africa and the second largest toll road in Africa after the Dakar Toll highway will help save billions lost in traffic jams every year.
The road includes a 2.5-meter emergency lane on the outer shoulder of either carriageway that will be used by emergency response vehicles thus reducing the time it takes to react and respond to emergencies.
Further, all emergency response vehicles like ambulances, police vehicles, military vehicles, and such will be exempted from paying tolls.
The expressway will have a four lane and six-lane dual carriageway within the existing median of Mombasa Road, Uhuru Highway and Waiyaki way as well as 10 interchanges.
The section between the Eastern and Southern bypasses will be a six-lane dual carriageway while the section from the Eastern bypass and that from the Southern bypass to James Gichuru will be a four-lane dual carriageway.
The expressway is being financed and constructed by the China Road and Bridge Corporation and is expected to be completed by the end of February next year. The firm will operate the highway under a Public-Private Partnership for a period of 30 years.
By Rachael Kilonzo and Janet Shitote