Kenya Bypass boom makes city’s new millionaires

Forget Karen, this is where real money is

The Southern Bypass at Ngong Forest

The Southern Bypass at Ngong Forest

You do not need big money to make it big in the city. For the new bypasses have opened up areas on the outskirts for growth. And investors are rushing to cash in with huge housing developments.

The bypasses have also brought big money to contractors who are enjoying a building boom as people put up houses in these newly accessible areas.

From Ruaka, Membley, Ruai, Utawala, Kamulu, Ruiru to areas next to Kangundo Road this is the place for millionaires. Every Nairobian wants to own a piece of this property, thanks to the  Eastern and Northern bypasses. Developments on the 39-kilometre Eastern bypass that links Mombasa Road to Thika Superhighway has, for the past few years, enjoyed tremendous growth.

Estate agent William Sifuna said Utawala used to be a quiet area with low population, a stark contrast to how it is now.

“The bypass has opened up this area and there are now hundreds of thousands of people living here. Banks, shopping malls and supermarkets have come and life is vibrant,” he said.

Low population

The Northern and Eastern bypasses are part of the Government’s major infrastructure development programme aimed at making Kenya a regional business hub

“Ruai, Utawala and the adjacent areas were once a one-lane affair. Today, people buy land, uild palatial homes and commercial centres. Land prices have skyrocketed,” said Mr Sifuna

A visit to areas bordering the bypasses revealed places teeming with construction.

The bypass is dotted with palatial homes, commercial centres, petrol stations, supermarkets and Kikopey look-alike entertainment spots that have nyama choma and beer joints all through from the Utawala roundabout to the junction of Thika Road and into the Northern bypass.

Growth surge

On the Northern bypass, the story is the same. Areas like Ruai, Thome, Kahawa, Kiambu, Limuru, and Banana have experienced the same surge in growth because of the new road. The 31-km road starts from Ruiru, through Kamae, then Membley estate, through Kahawa West, Thome bridges Kimabu Road through Runda then joins Waiyalki Way at Limuru. Property valuer Collins Otieno said once the areas opened up, accessibly to Nairobi and the major roads like the Thika Super Highway became easy hence the growth.

“The building of the bypasses has greatly benefited these areas. We now see everyone wanting to live in these areas. This means the demand is high, hence high property prices,” he said.

Mr Alex Muema, a director of Ndatani Ltd., a land company, said he had seen prices rise in years along the bypass.

“It is a well-known fact that land appreciates in value along the tarmac road hence once these areas are tarmacked, the value will increase along the roads as opposed to off the roads towards the hinterland,” Mr Otieno said.

In Ruaka, an acre plot that went for Sh5 million in 2005, today goes for around Sh25 million, while Thome, Garden Estate and Membley, which sit along the Northen bypass, fetch Sh30 million for an acre, up from an average of Sh8 million a decade ago.

The same is true of Thome, Githogoro, Kinoo, Ruiru and any other area where the bypasses but,” he said.

Rents have also increased in most of these areas because of the accessibility into Nairobi either through Thika Road or Mombasa Road.

Mr Eric Wainaina, an estate agent with Resco Properties said that in Utawala a two-bedroom house that would fetch Sh6,000 a month in 2005  is now not less than Sh15000.

“In estates like Membley, Thome and Garden Estate, it was very possible to find a four bedroom maisonette for Sh20, 000 in 2005. This has changed with the same house having an average asking price of between Sh45, 000 and Sh60, 000,” he said.

Along these bypasses, one will not fail to notice hardware shops, piles of sand, ballast and stones showing how these businesses are reaping from the construction boom.

Mr John Kamau, a lorry driver, said that on average he was able to make up to four trips in a day to deliver sand, ballast or stones.

“We charge Sh9, 000 for a seven-ton lorry of ballast, Sh22, 000 for an 11-ton lorry and Sh25 per stone for construction. There is no single day you will not find a construction project in progress, therefore it means business for construction materials suppliers. The bypass has brought to us business and we believe as more people buy land here, business will always be good for us,” he said.

In spite of the boom, these areas especially on the Eastern bypass have faced several challenges with the key amongst them being the lack of a sewer trunk line. This means the owners of plots there have to construct a septic tank, soak pit, water storage tank and access roads because the area did not have any of them and the Government has not built any so far. Crime has also become an issue in some of these areas with Utawala and Ruai being particularly bad.




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