The World Bank has thrown into doubt the construction of a double-decker road linking Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to Rironi through Uhuru Highway after questioning its suitability and cutting financing.
The bank had last year renewed its commitment to finance the Sh38 billion elevated highway, which aims to decongest Nairobi, after initially pulling out of the project that has delayed for nearly 10 years.
Now, the multilateral lender is conducting fresh feasibility studies to establish whether the double-decker road is necessary.
It has also decided not to finance the whole of the 30-40 kilometre road, prompting the government to seek financiers.
“Currently feasibility studies are being carried out to determine whether the intervention will involve a double-decker road or not. This is not known at the moment,” the bank said.
“Also, the financing arrangements have changed. Due to the construction costs involved, the government has approached other development partners, and therefore the bank will not be financing the whole road section,” it added.
Construction of the double-decker road has been in the pipeline for years despite the worsening traffic situation in Nairobi as more vehicles are introduced on the roads.
Approved in 2008
Parliament in 2008 approved the construction of a double-decker road in Nairobi under a 30-year build-operate-transfer deal.
However, nearly a decade later construction works are yet to commence.
Initial attempts to build the road failed after the World Bank raised concern over the integrity of Strabag — the Austrian firm that had won the concession to build and operate the road.
The fallout followed a condition by the World Bank that it would only finance the project once Strabag complied with its social and environmental safeguards, including land acquisition and Kenyan legal provisions.
During an infrastructure summit at State House last August, Kenya National Highways Authority director-general Peter Mundinia said the World Bank had renewed its commitment to finance the mega project.
He also indicated that the African Development Bank has expressed interest in funding the road.
Construction was set to start towards end of last year or early this year but Mr Mundinia reckons its construction has been pushed to next year, pending further studies for a comprehensive design.
Some of the special features of the planned express way include a bus rapid transit system, which will involve construction of a dedicated lane for large-capacity buses to ease congestion brought home by the chaotic public commuter service.
The World Bank, in a recent report, said Nairobi residents on average spend an hour to travel to work and another 60 minutes commuting back home due to traffic congestion on the city’s roads.
The proposed elevated dual carriageway is to be built in three phases beginning with the first 6.5 kilometres running from the JKIA to Likoni Road and the Southern bypass interchange.
The second stretch (12km) will connect Likoni Road to James Gichuru Road junction on Waiyaki Way in Westlands, while the last section will run from James Gichuru Road to Rironi, on Nairobi-Nakuru highway.
The road will come with multiple interchanges at intersections on Popo-Kapiti, Lang’ata-Lusaka, Bunyala, Rhapta and James Gichuru roads.