The Downside to the Nairobi Expressway
By Evans Karangu
The Nairobi expressway is a 27.1 Km overpass road that runs along the median strips of Mombasa Road, starting at Mlolongo, Uhuru, and Waiyaki Way and terminating at James Gichuru Road.
The Expressway is a project by Uhuru’s government through a public-private partnership with a Chinese firm. The project is said to have cost Kenya Sh88 billion.
The road was aimed to help ease movement from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport into the city. Nairobi is characterized by traffic jams, especially in the morning and afternoon. Most people travel to work and from work at these hours.
On May 11, 2022, David Pkosing (Member of Parliament for Pokot south and the National Assembly Transport Committee head) said that Kenya loses 50 million daily due to time wasted on traffic. The Nairobi Expressway has saved Kenyans from traffic jams.
The road has no roundabouts, junctions, or bumps. It is a smooth cruise from one end of the city to another. The road makes it possible for one to travel from the airport to an office in Westlands in about 15 minutes.
Due to such advantages, many motorists prefer the Expressway. About 3,300 motorists daily opt to use the road; therefore, the need to monitor the road’s population arises.
In May 2022, Grace Mwikali – staff at the monitoring department of the Expressway, confirmed that they could detect congestion, spillage, and pedestrian crossing.
She said that monitoring at the Expressway is easier because the road has 54 HD cameras and 126 toll cameras installed which help relay images to the monitoring department. Despite the advantages, the Expressway has proved to have its shortcomings. On June 25, a motorist exiting the toll station driving at high speed crashed into a Tollbooth and other vehicles, leaving one person dead and several others injured.
The incident has left many people frightened on Twitter. “These were from Naivasha and decided to put what they had seen on practicals and boom. Subaru boys,” Shyne Kibunga posted.
Many motorists reduce driving speed upon sight of a traffic officer. During the weekends, many motorists are drunk. They have no time to observe traffic rules.
Could this be the reality on the Expressway? Early March this year, Moja Expressway. A firm that manages the operations of the Nairobi Expressway said it is offering motorists an Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) service. Motorists would be issued cards to provide fast and easy transit through the
Expressway. Motorists would also need to buy toll points of at least Sh2,000, which will be deducted whenever they use the road but are only valid for one year.
However, the action made many Kenyans feel the Expressway only served the rich.
Kenyans feel only the rich can afford to pay between the Ksh 120 and Ksh 1800 for the full stretch depending on the size of the car and distance covered as of 25th May 2022. The Nairobi Expressway on the other hand has isolated many, especially bodaboda riders. On June 13, Moja Expressway maintained that motorcycles should remain banned from accessing the elevated highway.
Other forms of transport were also prohibited from the road, including bicycles, scooters, wheelbarrows, handcarts, pedestrians, and skaters. The action isolated many Kenyans.
In connection to the accident that happened on Saturday, June 25, penalties for accidents on the Expressway arise. Many have suggested a fine of up to Sh8 million.
According to David Pkosing, “there is no fine yet prescribed anywhere. It must come to Parliament in law, and this committee will process and pass it.”
It is high time the fine is imposed! The Expressway will otherwise be prone to accidents if such penalties are not put in place. Motorists using the road should also take caution and observe traffic rules regardless of the road not having bumps, junctions or roundabouts. The monitoring department should also keep an eye on the speed of motorists to avoid a case like that of Saturday 25th.
The Expressway was built to save people from traffic jams. Traffic rules should be observed and maintained at all times.