Third Eye

Nairobi Expressway is poised to revolutionise city transport

Monday, May 16th, 2022 09:08 | By
A section of the Expressway linking Westlands and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. PHOTO/Kenna Claude
A section of the Expressway linking Westlands and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. PHOTO/Kenna Claude

Cities have a crucial role in the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More than 50 per cent of the global population lives in cities, which are also responsible for around 70 per cent of global energy-related emissions. Consequently, cities are on the frontline of both climate impacts and the transition to a sustainable future for all. As cities grow exponentially, the demand for urban transport also increases. But how the cities respond to the growing demand will determine the impact on the environment. 

There is no doubt a reliable and efficient public transport network is the backbone of a city’s mobility system and is crucial in creating a healthy environment. It is against this background that cities worldwide are working towards improving public transport capacity and efficiency. Taking cognisance of this, President Uhuru Kenyatta embarked on aggressive investment in the road network, which has been scaled up to build more highways, urban roads and also to extend rural roads to where they are needed to open up areas to economic activity and trade. 

But one of his key legacy projects is the recently completed Nairobi Expressway, a four-lane and six-lane dual carriageway within the existing median of Mombasa Road, Uhuru Highway and Waiyaki Way. The expressway runs over 27km, linking Mlolongo town in Machakos county and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to the Nairobi-Nakuru highway. It is part of the northern corridor that provides passage to 85 per cent of the cargo destined for neighbouring landlocked countries such as Uganda, Rwanda, DRC and South Sudan.

The expressway reaffirms Uhuru’s commitment to fostering sustainable urban development; a place for living and working that will redefine the landscape for generations to come. Apart from contributing to the reduction in carbon emissions and sustainable development, it will ensure residents enjoy efficient transit through the city. 

Other than sustainability issues, the expressway was designed to decongest traffic of A8 and meet the demands of JKIA expansion while enhancing the link between different cities and counties transiting through Nairobi. It is expected to cut down transport time by 60 per cent across the city.

The Nairobi expressway will be operated by Moja Express for 27 years. Uhuru recently announced it will be open to motorised public last Saturday on a trial basis. It has 11 inter-changes and is expected to accommodate 120,000 daily active users. Kenyans can’t hide their excitement as 10,000 people have already registered to use the expressway, whose design speed is 80kph. Toll charges are computed based on the vehicle type, entry and exit station. 

There are three payment methods namely cash, Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) and Manual Toll Collection (MTC). Cash users are not obliged to register prior to their trip on the expressway. An ETC card requires installation of a unit known as On-Board Unit in the vehicle for automatic toll payment. It allows you to easily transition the stations without stopping. Though mobile money is currently not among the payment options, the expressway will in future adopt other payment methods like M-Pesa. There are 27 toll plazas manned on a 24-hour basis. Ambulances, police vehicles, military personnel and fire trucks are exempted from payment.

However, not all motorised vehicles will be allowed access. Tuk Tuks, wheelbarrows, handcarts, bicycles, scooters, motorcycles as well as pedestrians will not be allowed access. This is for safety reasons and lack of appropriate toll charge for the excluded user categories.

There is no doubt the expressway will revolutionise city transport and the long winding traffic jams on the city’s roads will be a thing of the past.

— The author is a Communications &PR expert based in Nairobi

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