Eastern Bypass dualling plan in top gear as Kenya seeks contractor

Chinese contractors have been hailed for the quality of their work. PHOTO/FILE
Chinese contractors at a construction site. PHOTO/FILE
Kenya’s plan to expand the Nairobi Eastern Bypass into a dual carriageway is in top gear, with the government holding talks with Chinese contractors in readiness to begin the project.

According to the Transport and Infrastructure secretary James Macharia, the expansion of the road that links Mombasa Road with Thika Superhighway will ease traffic on a road that helps travellers to access the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport without passing through the congested central business district.

In an interview with the Business Daily on Monday, Mr Macharia said that his ministry was preparing memoranda of understanding that would be shared with shortlisted contractors “in two or three months’ time” to help unlock financing for the project.

“Dualling should have been done from day one. They should not have done that road without dualling it,” Mr Macharia said. “We want to accelerate the dualling and have it done as soon as we arrange financing and that’s why we’re processing these memoranda of understanding.”

The documents, he said, will provide the roadmap for the design and costing of the multi-billion-shilling project that has a two-year construction timeline.

READ: Eastern Bypass: Africa’s most expensive urban road

The Eastern Bypass dualling project was among 11 major infrastructure projects that Kenya showcased to international investors during the Belt and Road forum that was held in Beijing, China, in May.

The bypass was designed and built by the Kibaki-government as part of Kenya’s Vision 2030 infrastructure projects. Its costs, together with that of the Northern Bypass, overshot the initial Sh8.5 billion budget due to land acquisition costs.

READ: High land prices threaten to stall major road projects

The dualling is expected to run smoothly since the road has enough land for expansion. Mr Macharia, however, disclosed that the new road is likely to pass through residential areas in Embakasi, which means the affected landlords will be compensated.

“The road has [adequate land] and where there is an issue about acquisition that will be done as required by the law. It should not be a big problem for us,” Mr Macharia said.