Eastern Bypass: Africa’s most expensive urban road

Skyrocketing land prices might hamper Government efforts to build roads.
Skyrocketing land prices might hamper Government efforts to build roads.PHOTO/FILE
The huge cost of compensating landowners on the route of the 39km Eastern bypass could make it one of Africa’s most expensive urban road projects.

The Government has already paid landowners around City Cabanas in Nairobi a total of Sh4.7 billion, according to an engineer at the Ministry of Roads.

The landowners who have been compensated occupy just one kilometre of the total road distance, meaning the compensation could end up accounting 30 per cent of the project’s final cost.

The Eastern bypass, which connects Mombasa Road to Ruiru-Kiambu [part of the Northern bypass] was initially projected to cost Sh4.2 billion. The amount paid out to landowners around City Cabanas exceeds half the original budget for the project.

The construction of the bypass, which is part of Vision 2030 infrastructure projects, began in 2009 following the award of the tender to China Road and Bridge.

Lack of enough money to compensate landowners had stalled the construction of the bypass at City Canabas for nearly a year, according to the engineer who asked not to be named.

“Landowners demanded Sh150 to Sh200 million before surrendering their undeveloped parcels of land, more than triple the price of two years ago,” the engineer told The Standard.

“Those with money bought land along proposed roads for speculative purposes and the net effect was inflation of land prices across the country,” he said.

Roads Permanent Secretary Michael Kamau expressed concern that skyrocketing land prices might hamper Government efforts to build roads in urban areas.

(Read: EU extends Sh3.4bn loan to fund Nairobi roads)

Mr Kamau said landowners in major towns are charging prohibitively exorbitant prices making it very difficult and tedious to acquire land for expansion of critical public infrastructure.

“Roads authorities are spending approximately 30 per cent of the project cost on compensating land owners who may be affected. Where disputes arise as to the value of the land these can sometimes lead to delays in project completion with resultant costs overruns,” he said.

Mr Kamau said that completion of the Eastern Bypass is set to commence soon after the remaining landowners are compensated.