Kenya is on the verge of having the first ever express way following an agreement with United States during the visit of President Uhuru Kenyatta to the White House last week. The two leaders signed an agreement to have the 473 kilometers highway constructed by a US engineering firm Bechtel. The dual carriage highway is expected to give direct access to Kenya’s port city, Mombasa which is also a major Indian Ocean port.
The Nairobi- Mombasa Express way project is expected to reduce travel time between the two cities from the normal ten hours to four hours, thus improving efficiency, connectivity and safety. Running parallel to the Standard Gauge Railway, the route is expected to complement transportation along the Nairobi- Mombasa corridor furthering it into a vibrant economy.
Major towns along that corridor are expected to benefit from the project, opening up to both local and foreign investments. Kajiado County for instance is expected to benefit from water pans and boreholes following a previous engagement with the Kenya National Highway Authority officials some time last year. This is besides offering technical training for local the local labor as well as skill development for suppliers.
The high- speed express way will be a key growth factor by enhancing infrastructure and transportation directly impacting on local and international tourism. Actors in the hotel and tourism industry have welcomed the new development confident of realizing the benefits of fast facilitation out of travelling with ease.
The Sh300 billion project will however not stand to benefit Kenya alone, it will open the port of Mombasa to other land locked countries in the East African Community like Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo. This will boost trade by ensuring fast transit of cargo reducing overhead costs for importers. Combined with the SGR, the two major infrastructures will be a major welcome to the entire EAC, exposing it to direct foreign investment.
The construction of the ultra- modern project is expected to commence by the end of the year and it will be financed by the Export–Import Bank of the United States and the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (Opic). It will be a dual carriage motor highway with four lanes capable of accommodating sustained speeds of up to 120 kilometers per hour.