Eastlands Nairobi is set to undergo a major transformation once the construction of Outer Ring Road and six so-called eastern missing links, which has begun in earnest, is completed in 2017.
Just as with the Thika superhighway, the multiplier effect of the project on real estate, trade and the general Eastlands economy, is expected to be huge.
The two road projects combined and being carried out concurrently are the most ambitious undertaken in Nairobi since the construction of the Thika superhighway in 2009.
Outer Ring Road, the fulcrum of the projects, will rival Thika Road in terms of design and engineering with up to 10 lanes at its widest section between the junctions of Kangundo Road and Mumias South Road.
The 13-kilometre road that connects Thika Road at the General Service Unit Headquarters to Airport North Road at the Taj Shopping Mall next to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport that is being constructed at a cost of Sh8.5 billion will be upgraded to a dual carriage way.
It will also have seven-metre-wide service roads on each side in addition to footpaths and cycle lanes.
It will also be the first road in the country to have a median lane for the proposed Nairobi Rapid Transit System complete with four passenger transfer stations.
The county is already searching for means to implement the system which is part of its Vision 2030 goals.
Access roads into Doonholm and Tena, Southlands, Jacaranda, Kangundo and Kayole will have six-lane underpasses while the two roundabouts on the road–at Jogoo Road and Juja Road — will give way to interchanges.
The Jogoo Road roundabout will be replaced with a full four-leaf clover interchange while Juja Road roundabout will be replaced with an overpass and an underpass.
And to improve safety, 10 footbridges and two railway bridges are to be constructed just before the Kangundo Road junction and Taj Mall.
The immediate effect of the road according to the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura), which is in charge of the upgrade, will be the reduction in the time it takes to travel from Thika Road to Mombasa Road from three hours to less than 10 minutes.
“Currently, vehicles using the road can only move up to 2 kilometres per hour during off-peak hours, which is painfully slow,” Mr Peter Mudinia, Kura’s acting director, told the Sunday Nation.
“But once the road is complete, a person from Ruaraka can reach JKIA in less than 10 minutes as the road has been designed to allow speeds of at least 70 km/h,” he said.
“In addition, the new road will blend with another major road projects like the Thika superhighway, the eastern missing links and the Eastleigh roads, which will further ease the movement of goods and people in Eastlands,” he said.
The contractor, SinoHydro Tianjin Engineering, is already on site and excavation works have started between Jogoo road roundabout and Kangundo road.
Filling in the missing links will involve the construction of 17.1 kilometres of road across Ngara (Accra to Ngara Road), Muratina Road (General Waruinge to Thika Road), Ring Road Parklands (Waiyaki Way to Limuru Road and Limuru Road to Thika superhighway and Quarry Road (Landhies – Park Road) and 12.4 kilometres of non-motorised transport. The roads that will cost Sh4.85 billion touch 13 pf the 17 constituencies in Nairobi City County.
Property market experts say the expected ease in movement and hype that comes with a major road project will have an effect on property prices.
“Property in Eastlands is unpopular because of the constant traffic congestion, but we expect to see a ‘Thika Road’ effect on the property index in areas like Umoja, Tena and Doonholm, said Anthony Kinja of Wealth Link Realtors.
“These areas have fairly good houses, but developers are forced to charge lower rents compared to areas with similar infrastructure along Thika Road like Roysambu,” he said.
“Already the risk appetite for speculators is being felt, and there is a demand for land, and right now it is almost impossible to get land for sale anywhere near Outer Ring road,” he said.
However, a number of structures standing in the way of the road will soon be demolished.