Property boom as Eldoret town bypass takes off

By Winstone Chiseremi
Friday, November 22nd, 2019 03:31 | 3 mins read
A section of the Sh6 billion Eldoret Southern bypass project under construction in Uasin Gishu county.

Construction of the Sh6 billion Eldoret Southern bypass in Uasin Gishu county has led to the skyrocketing of land prices along the Eldoret-Nakuru highway.

This follows a scramble for space by middle-income investors out to stake a claim on new opportunities in real estate along the 32km bypass.

The multi-billion shilling project is funded by the African Development Bank in conjunction with the government. The project was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in August 2017, but actual construction started in March 2018. Land compensation disputes delayed the project.

Upon completion, it is expected to ease traffic jams in Eldoret’s central business district that connects the North Rift to the neighbouring countries such as Uganda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

The project starts from Cheplaskei on Eldoret-Nakuru highway through Kapsaret trading centre to Maili Tisa along Eldoret-Webuye highway before re-joining Uganda road.

A few years ago, mud-walled and timber structured houses dotted the area around Kapseret trading centre. Currently, the area boasts well-planned, high-rise residential buildings and bungalows. 

Smooth tarmac roads have replaced the potholed roads. Between Moi International Airport and Kapseret, for example, the price of one acre of land previously going for Sh60,000 about 15 years ago is currently selling at Sh6 million.

The area, which was previously shunned by land buying companies and individuals, has in the recent past seen development of several gated community developments. The price of an eighth of an acre at Cheplaskei area has risen from Sh150,000 in 2008 to Sh4 million this year.

At Maili Tisa on the Eldoret-Webuye and Kitale highway, land prices have jumped 50 per cent. This has seen an increase in businesses such as hardware shops, general stores and entertainment joints. 

Purity Gakii, a manager at Climentine Limited, which deals with property and construction, says areas previously deemed rural some 20 years ago are now booming with real estate development, thanks to the bypass. 

“The area along Moi International Airport and Kapseret trading centre shunned by real estate investors for years is becoming the next destination for high-end housing developments,” says Gakii.

Single lane highway

She says property investors are scrambling for land to put up housing developments due to proximity of the area to the airport and the good road network to and from Eldoret town.

Uasin Gishu governor Jackson Mandago says the much-awaited project will spur economic growth not only in the county, but regional governments under the North Rift Economic Bloc (Noreb). 

“We are happy that construction is ongoing and we expect the contractor to complete the project by next year,” said Mandago, who is also Noreb chairman.

The governor has, however, protested a decision by the Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha) to change the design of the bypass from the original dual carriage to a single lane. He faulted Kenha for going against the original, dual highway plan.

Irene Chepkorir, a resident of Kapseret constituency, says the bypass has brought a lot of changes in terms of infrastructural and commercial developments within the area, which is in the outskirts of Eldoret town.

She says landowners situated along the Eldoret-Moi International Airport road are capitalising on the rising demand for land by investors in real estate and individuals to hike the prices. 

“Buyers are attracted by the large tracts of land for expansion and the availability of water, electricity and all-weather roads,” she added. 

“This by-pass will reduce congestion in Eldoret Town and make it easier for people travelling to Western Kenya, Kitale and Moi Airport to reach their destination,” says the project’s resident engineer Joseph Gichuru.

Youth employment 

To recoup business opportunities lost in diverting traffic out of town, the contractor is building a 100-truck capacity parking bay at Maili Tisa on a site that previously served as a chicken market. 

“Hawkers who used to work here were compensated by the National Land Commission for loss of livelihoods despite this being Kenya Defense Forces land. Once the parking bay is operational, they can resume selling their wares,” said Gichuru. 

Even before the project is completed, locals are already benefitting, with 400 of them (75 per cent of whom are youths) employed by the project. The number rises to 800 during peak time. 

Janet Kimetto, who runs a hotel business in the area, says since construction of the bypass started, her business, which had stagnated due to lack of customers has picked up. 

“I have never missed business opportunities since the construction work started because the workers needs to eat.  I sell them breakfast and lunch in my premises located next to the project site,” says Kimetto.  

She says the previously dormant area is now booming with small-scale businesses ranging from hardware, tailoring shops, bars and general stores. 

Unfortunately, the project, being implemented by China Wu Yi Company, is only 20 per cent complete due to delays in compensating landowners affected by the construction, according to Gichuru. 

“A number of land owners lack proper documentation while others are involved in disputes with their relatives, which has slowed down the land acquisition process,” Gichuru said.