By: N. George
- “The Northern Corridor continues to be an important artery for goods and people moving between the eastern and western parts of Kenya. Several of our landlocked neighbours also rely on the Northern Corridor to transport their sea-bound cargo.” Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia noted.
- “Indeed, Uganda, Rwanda, and South Sudan rely on this transport corridor to haul the overwhelming majority of their imports and exports.”
- The traffic jam between Gilgil and Nakuru city and for vehicles destined to Narok, South Western Kenya and Northern Tanzania will be eased and overall travel time from Nairobi to Mau Summit will be reduced significantly.
In 2017 the government of Kenya through the Kenya National Highway Authority (KENHA) came up with a plan to expand the road from Rironi to Mau Summit which is approximately 181kilometres into a four-lane dual carriage and future augmentation into a six-lane carriageway in various sections including a viaduct through Nakuru town. Rironi township in Kiambu county is located at the northwest of the Kenya’s capital city central business district approximately 40 kilometres.
Included in the project is the re-carpeting and widening to a seven-metre carriageway with 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) shoulders on both sides of the single carriage way of the A8 south highway Rironi to Mai Mahiu-Naivasha Road commonly known as (Escarpment Road) whose length is approximately 62 kilometres, the erection of toll stations along the highway under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme and the construction of a 4 kilometres (2 mi) elevated highway through Nakuru town.
The total project length is around 151 miles or 243 kilometres which can further be split in to Rironi -Naivasha- Nakuru-Mau Summit Road 181 kilometres and Rironi-Mai Mahiu Road 62 kilometres. According to the KeNHA feasibility study report for the maintenance of the Nairobi – Nakuru – Mau Summit (A104) Highway as a Public Private Partnerships (PPP) Project the breakdown of different sections of the road will be as follows:
Gitaru to Rironi: This section of road is being widened from existing 4-lane to 6-lane with service roads by KeNHA. No further capacity enhancements are required till 2045.
Rironi to Naivasha, and HS-II Naivasha to Elementaita Rd: These sections are recommended to be widened from 2-lane to 4-lane immediately (by 2020), and further widened to 6-lane by 2035 to maintain LOS (level of service)-B standards. 6-lane road will continue to provide LOS-B till 2045.
Elementaita Rd to Njoro Rd Junction (Nakuru urban area): This section of road is already 4-lane and doesn’t require capacity enhancement immediately. However, elevated corridor from Km 123+800 to 126+400 is recommended for the project road as there are 4 closely spaced intersections in this stretch with heavy urban traffic causing delay to through traffic.
The remaining stretch of HS-III would require further capacity augmentation to 6-lanes in year 2030. 6-lane road will continue to provide LOS-C till 2040 (urban area hence, LOS-C is acceptable).
Njoro Rd Junction to Mau Summit: This section is recommended to be widened from 2-
lane to 4-lane immediately (by 2020), and further widened to 6-lane by 2040 to maintain LOS-B. 6-lane road will continue to provide LOS-B till 2050.
The estimate of daily traffic of this road currently stands at an estimated 20,000 vehicles and the number is expected to increase by 4 percent per year.
It has been agreed that the private sector will raise the finance for the project, design, construct, maintain and operate the road on pre-agreed standards and specifications then recover his money from motorists in the form of user fees. A 30 years period concession for the road had been planned.
To recover the construction costs a deal was signed in October 2020 between Kenya government and French firm Vinci and witnessed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron as part of his three-day official tour of the European nation. The French firm will construct the toll stations.
The project to be implemented by the Kenya National Highway Authority (KeNHA) is expected to cost around sh168.12 billion.
Road Rift Valley Connect – a consortium made up of Vinci Highways SAS, Meridian Infrastructure Africa Fund, and Vinci Concessions SAS will build the Nairobi-Mau Summit.
The construction period is expected to last at least 42 months.
The Rironi – Nakuru – Mai Mahiu Road is part of the Northern Corridor and it will connect the western part of Kenya to the capital city of Nairobi and the port of Mombasa.
The population directly served by the road connection amounts up to around 6 million (approximately 15% of the total population in Kenya) and indirectly it services up to 19 million population including counties of Nakuru and beyond which is almost half the population of Kenya. Comparable transport alternatives for the region are not available.
Countries like Uganda, Southern Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo are landlocked so they partly rely on Mombasa Sea port rendering busy the Mombasa-Nairobi-Mau Summit Road.
“The Northern Corridor continues to be an important artery for goods and people moving between the eastern and western parts of Kenya. Several of our landlocked neighbours also rely on the Northern Corridor to transport their sea-bound cargo.” Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia noted.
“Indeed, Uganda, Rwanda, and South Sudan rely on this transport corridor to haul the overwhelming majority of their imports and exports.”
The traffic jam between Gilgil and Nakuru city and for vehicles destined to Narok, South Western Kenya and Northern Tanzania will be eased and overall travel time from Nairobi to Mau Summit will be reduced significantly.
The cabinet secretary added that “In designing and building this modern highway, the government will rationalise the use of scarce road space. The new highway will also improve traffic flow, reduce traffic accidents, and facilitate the proper management of heavy commercial vehicles.”
The National Transportation and Safety Authority of Kenya (NTSA) had identified that the expansion and rehabilitation of the road from Nairobi-Naivasha-Nakuru- Mau Summit will reduce the number of road accidents especially at the two most accident-prone stretches which are the highway between Nairobi and Nakuru and the section of road Sobea–Salgaa–Mau Summit, on the road between Nakuru and Eldoret, known as the Salgaa stretch.
The Naivasha Inland Container Depot (ICD) and the proposed Industrial Park in Naivasha are set to benefit from the Rironi – Mai Mahiu – Naivasha road.