Transport and Infrastructure

Residents Angle for a Slice of the Western Bypass Pie

By Laban Cliff Onserio

The Western by-pass that is under construction promises to deliver a much-needed boost to many businesses lined up along the 17-kilometer dual-carriage.

With nearly .percentage of the road done, traders are already catching the fever of the business growth and expanded opportunities delivered by the road that is funded by China’s Exim Bank.

At the Gitaru shopping centre in the outskirts of Kikuyu town, Njoroge Njuguna is already living the benefits of the road expansion. The 32-year-old’s business that specializes in welded windows and doors is bustling with the busiest spell it has ever experienced in its … years of existence.

Says Njuguna: “Before construction works on the Western bypass started, business was very low. Now this road has attracted more people and the increased population around this area has brought more clients to my business.”
The narrative of Njoroge’s changing fortunes resonates with the hopes and aspirations of many Kenyans who are benefiting – or hope to benefit – directly or indirectly from the road expansion projects being undertaken in the country.

On completion, the Western bypass dual carriage will effectively complete the loop of roads around Nairobi that are primarily designed to decongest the city’s vehicular traffic and unlock the flow of passengers and goods.
But as witnessed in the other bypasses that are already in use, new/expanded roads act as a fertilizer for economic growth. Businesses, especially those linked to food and entertainment and construction, sprout along the roads helping create direct and indirect jobs. The value of land along or neighbouring the roads is also known to rise exponentially thereby increasing households absolute economic wealth.

With seven inter-changes: Gitaru, Lower Kabete, Wangige, Kiharu, Ndenderu, Rumingi and Ruaka, the Western bypass poses unique design and engineering requirements that must be met within the slightly more than three years proposed construction period. The interchanges will provide a quick access to and from feeder towns thereby reducing traffic gridlocks.

The complexities of the project and the inevitable displacement of residents in the heavily populated and high-value land where the road will traverse have made the bypass to be one of the most-costly per-kilometer project in the country.

The project is among several others being undertaken by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) that has been doing business in Kenya since 1987.