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Bypass opens up large parts of Embakasi

The Eastern Bypass has eased communication between Nairobi and Thika and has led to the growth of areas that were once considered remote. With more and more people moving to areas like Ruai, Mihang’o and Utawala, the rents and the price of land have been going up, greatly benefiting landlords and land owners.

capturePeter Maina lives and runs a business in Utawala Estate on the outskirts of Nairobi.

He is among the people who bought land in the area in 1995. Long before the Eastern Bypass was built.

He says at the time, the area was more of a field than a satellite town of Nairobi, with residential houses few and far between, impassable roads, no supermarket or remark¬able entertainment joints. However, there were no insecurity concerns since the few residents formed community-policing groups.

“Impassable earth roads and water shortages were the press¬ing challenges here. People used to walk about 6 km from the Administration Police Training Camp (APTC). Sometimes they wouldn’t make it home due to flooding in the Elshadai area,” he recalls.

But with the beginning of the government’s mega development projects in around 2009. Utawala Estate has metamorphosed from a simple hamlet into a veritable township lined with residential houses and palatial homes, tarmacked main roads and a booming population.

Maina, who bought an eighth-acre plot near Utawala Shopping Centre, some coo metres from the Eastern Bypass for S11160, 000, says the cost of land has skyrocketed. A piece of land that cost less than Sh200.000 two decades ago is now going for Sht.8 million, while plots touching the bypass are going for between Sh3.5 million and Sh4 million, he adds.

“The fact that land is still avail¬able and affordable in places like Githunguri. Mihang’o and Utawala has seen a massive migration of people who buy land to put up residential or rental houses.’ he adds.

Driving along the road one sees hardware shops, banks. pet¬rol stations, furniture shops and entertainment joints.

Eased transport

Just like the construction of the Thika Superhighway, the construction of the Eastern Bypass has dramatically changed lives and eased transport and communication between the residents of Utawala and those living along the bypass.

Already, ‘anti Bora and Family banks have set up shop along the bypass near the Utawala junction. Petrol stations, go-downs, plazas, fully packed entertainment joints selling nyama choma are common past Utawala among them Kamakis, Sparta Bar and Restaurant, Klub Kapela, East Brook Hotel, and M-Series.

In addition, gone were the days when travelling from Thika to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) Embakasi or Machakos meant driving to the City, then taking Mombasa Road or using the Thika Road bypass then branching at Ruaraka to the usually congested Outering Road to Embakasi.

The bypass has made transport more convenient, and the once sleepy areas of Utawala, Ruiru and Ruai are slowly coming to life.

In fact, many people living in densely populated estates like Pipeline Imara Daima and other estates in Embakasi are migrating to Utawala and Ruiru, thanks to a good road connection, a lower population and affordable housing.

“It was really hectic, time consuming and expensive before the construction of the bypass. I would pay Shi o0 to town by matatu. Then pay another Sh50 or more for a matatu to Thika to reach my work place near Kenyatta University, and with the jam on Mombasa Road. I often arrived late,” says Steve Muchiri.

Today, he takes a matatu to the end of bypass on Thika Road, then takes another for which he pays Sh2 o and gets to work in good time.

But despite the developments, access to of basic commodities such as water remain a problem.

We still use borehole water. Children are experiencing dental problems since the Nairobi City County has not yet supplied us with piped water and access roads to some areas are still bad. The City County has not done much, poor drainage strained due to influx of the people,” says Mr Maine.

Boniface Mwenda, who transport’s miraa from Maua, says it used to take him four-and-a-half hours to reach JKIA; the bypass had reduced the journey to three hours.

However he would like to see the National Transport and Safety Authority

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