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Nairobi Expressway – The Multi-Billion Project

Have you ever wondered about the Nairobi Expressway? Well, it’s not as bad as what you’ve heard. In fact, it will be one of the best in East and Central Africa.

How long have you been waiting on the long unending city jams? Are you traveling from JKIA Airport to Westlands on a normal weekday? You would probably be clenching your teeth for that missed flight, interview or business meeting! Why?

Solutions to Reduce Traffic Snarl-ups in Nairobi

We appreciate the government of Kenya for its initiative in developing the Nairobi road network. Starting from Nairobi ring-road network. The roads forming the Nairobi Ring road include:

  • 6 kilometer Nairobi Southern Bypass – Starts on the southern edges of the capital city along the Nairobi-Mombasa Road, passes through Gitaru, and connects to western bypass
  • 32 kilometer Nairobi Eastern Bypass – Starts at Cabanas along Mombasa Road and terminates in Ruiru in Kiambu county
  • 21 kilometer Nairobi Northern Bypass – Start at Ruaka in the northwestern part of Nairobi and links to the eastern bypass in Ruiru
  • 16 kilometer Nairobi Western Bypass – starts in Gitaru through Wangige and Ndenderu and terminates at Ruaka. According to Transport CS James Macharia, Nairobi will raise its status to be the same as other global metropolises once the western bypass is completed amid enhancing mobility and encouraging economic productivity.
Nairobi Expressway Ole Sereni Interchange
Nairobi Expressway Ole Sereni Interchange
Ole Sereni Interchange
Ole Sereni Interchange

And now we have the Nairobi Expressway, the real game-changer to the terrific perennial jams. China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) is the contractor. The cost is about US$668 million (Sh72.8 billion) after an increase of Ksh. 7.6 billion. Initially, the cost estimates were US$599 million (Sh65.2 billion) as per the Kenya National Highways Authority (KENHA) reports.

The project is nearing completion, and Kenyans will soon have a reason to smile and appreciate the value of smooth transition of 20 minutes.

The Connectivity of the Multi-Billion Project – Nairobi Expressway

The Expressway links the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to the Westlands area. It starts from Mlolongo and terminates at James Gichuru Junction. The elevated section starts from Nextgen Mall to St. Marks Church in Westlands. The road network will make movement through the congested town to be easy.

Aerial view of Nairobi Expressway
Aerial view of Nairobi Expressway facing Westlands in November 2021

The Nairobi expressway will benefit Kenyans with improved connectivity and faster movement of goods and services within and outside Nairobi. In addition, the new project will ease congestion on the Uhuru Highway, Waiyaki Way, and Mombasa road.

The Expressway is part of the Northern Corridor, which will contribute to the cargo transportation to neighboring Kenyan countries such as South Sudan, Uganda, DRC, and Rwanda.

When was the Expressway proposed?

You won’t believe that the proposal for the Expressway happened several years back in 2008 when Parliament approved the construction of a double-decker road on Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) deal. But why did its construction take that long before it came to effect?

World Bank pulled out from financing the Nairobi Toll Road project after citing some anomalies. However, by June 2022, Kenyans expect to use the road.

Length and project allocation

The over US$560m road project is the first Kenya project through the PPP (public-private partnership) build-operate-transfer model. The Expressway is about 27.1 km. The signing of the public-private partnerships agreement happened on October 15, 2019. The project design is to move motorists quickly. It is a four-lane and six-lane dual carriageway with ten interchanges. A section of the eastern bypass and the southern bypass to James Gichuru will be a four-lane dual carriageway. The section of the Expressway between the southern and eastern bypass will be a six-lane dual carriageway.

Funding of the Expressway

The biggest question about the Nairobi expressway is who is behind its funding? Kenyan citizens are the ones to pay for structural development through taxes. But now that we cannot raise the large sum of money for the project at once, the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) set in to fund the project, which they will later recover their money through toll fees after its completion. The project is run through the PPP (public-private partnership) arrangement. Though the world bank had expressed interest in funding the project, they did not secure the bid.

The China Bridge and Road Cooperation secured the offer, and the project received more than US$599 million from the Chinese firm. How much each Kenyan will have to pay to recover the Chinese debt is a question for another day. But, most importantly, smooth movement within and outside the currently congested Nairobi city full of traffic jams is a necessity.

Will the city life change after the completion of the Nairobi Expressway?

Currently, movement in and out the Nairobi city is a nightmare. The long queuing of vehicles and people rushing in all directions make it difficult to maneuver along the city’s busy roads. The project aims to reduce the congestion on Kenyan roads and ease the movement of vehicles in the town. Movement along the highways will be fast, contributing to the city’s economic growth. The disruption of the city transport is expected to lower by at least 30 percent. For instance, the commuters from Ruaka will take 30 minutes to JKIA. From Rironi to JKIA via the Nakuru Nairobi highway will take 20 minutes instead of 3 hours the commuters waste on the road.

Capital Center
Capital Center

How will it operate?

The expressway project is a partnership between the Kenyan national government and the Chinese firm that provides the funding. The Kenyan government is a critical player in land acquisition. Chinese corporation is responsible for the financing and construction of the Expressway. Once complete, the contractor will collect toll fees through Moja Expressway Company Limited for 27 years to recoup their construction costs and hand over to the Kenyan government. The project is set to change the city skyline and redefine the economic power of Nairobi as the East Africa commercial hub.

Special highlights of the Nairobi Expressway

Mlolongo town

There is no other town close to the most significant international airport in Kenya like the Mlolongo town. The town is famous for the long trucks from Mombasa that queue there. It is located on Mombasa road, one of the busiest and congested roads.

Mlolongo, a nice and fast-growing town in Machakos County with people from all tribes living in this area. The town is known for its rich cultural heritage and natural beauty. In the 2019 census records, Mlolongo had an estimated population of 136,000 people. It is a segment of the Nairobi metropolitan area.

Investors are eying this town with the real estate business. People are raising structures to meet the demand and needs of the town’s growing population.

It is a strategic truck point for the long-distance truck drivers plying the East African route from Tanzania/Mombasa to Rwanda, DRC, South Sudan, Burundi, and Uganda. All trucks arriving in Nairobi always stop here to undergo weighing and pay appropriately. That explains how this town acquired its name, that means “queuing,” due to the massive number of trucks parked or awaiting their turn. We can say the “procession” of tracks parading along the road in simple terms.

This is where the Nairobi Expressway begins as it extends to the west side of Nairobi City.

Interchanges and Toll Stations

Once the road is complete, the movement of motorists and other vehicles will be a breeze. It is expected to reduce a 2-hour drive to 20 minutes. After completion, the highway will have ten interchanges. These will include Mlolongo, Syokimau section, JKIA, Eastern Bypass, Southern Bypass, Capital Centre region, Haile Selassie, Museum Hill, Westlands, and at the endpoint—James Gichuru Junction. They will serve as entry and exit points.

JKIA Toll Station
JKIA Toll Station in Dec. 2021

Toll stations will be at the interchanges to facilitate the toll fees payment depending on vehicle type.


The Expressway will have 4 major pedestrian footbridges located at St. Marks, General Motors, Imara Daima and Mlolongo.

GM Bridge Under Construction along Nairobi Expressway
GM Bridge Under Construction along Nairobi Expressway in Oct 2021

Final Thought

On December 23, 2021, President Uhuru Kenyatta inspected the Nairobi Expressway and laid down the last girder on the road. This marked a year since the laying of the first girder back on December 26, 2020. The president expressed his satisfaction as the construction nears completion and was eager to drive on the road.

The Nairobi expressway is the real game-changer in the city transport infrastructure. After its completion, Kenyans will have an opportunity to experience an actual value of a smooth and well-connected transport system.

Alphayo Sande
Alphayo Sandehttps://www.shiftingnews.com
Alphayo Sande is an IT practitioner having attained a degree in Computer Science. He is also a non-fiction freelance writer specializing in different sections as an article and book writer. He writes for several online publications and has been published several times. Any day now, he gets his big breakthrough into the fast-paced world of being a writer, and his first job is to go to the end of the world and investigate strange occurrences. Alpha Sande is a trans human who can transform into any form he wants. He looks like any other human you would see on a billboard. He has a well-defined cheekbone structure, an androgynous face, and a piercing gaze. He is one of the new batch of freelancers whose job it is to report events across the known universe to the rest of us. While it is not as glamorous as it sounds, with little playtime, long, arduous assignments, and being widely derided by the literary establishment, it is his dream job.


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