President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the expansion of the 2.6 kilometre Ngong Road on Wednesday that will upgrade it to a dual carriageway.
Dualling of the road from the Kenya National Library to the Ring Road Junction in Kilimani, being undertaken by a Japanese construction firm, World Kaihatsu Kogyo (WKK) at a cost of Kshs 1.3 billion, will ease traffic jam on the often clogged stretch leading to the city centre.
Speaking during the occasion, President Kenyatta said Nairobi is clogged because investment in its infrastructure has not matched its growth over the years.
“Lack of investment is expensive: you may have heard that congestion costs Nairobi approximately Kshs 147 billion a year — a figure that doesn’t take into account the environmental and psychological costs that Nairobians must bear,” the President said as he flagged off machinery for the construction works.
He pointed out that the Government, in its transformative agenda, has set aside considerable resources to develop infrastructure, not only in Nairobi, but across the country so as to end the suffering of many Kenyans who are either stuck in traffic; walk to work or want to connect to the national transport network.
Better infrastructure, the President said, will enable the country to edge closer to 10 per cent annual GDP growth, reduce the number of hours wasted in traffic jams and enable farmers to access markets for their produce.
“Kenyans will not sit in traffic for hours every morning. Much of our cargo traffic will move by rail, rather than road, freeing up space on our roads,” the Head of State said.
President Kenyatta called on the Nairobi County leadership and other devolved units to ensure that installations along the roads earmarked for improvement are properly marked to minimize disruptions. He also called on Kenyans along the roads under construction to cooperate.
“It is time to make the most of the opportunities we have. First, relocation of services certainly should not be a bottleneck to improved connectivity in the country. We can no longer delay services and infrastructure to hundreds of thousands of people simply because a few Kenyans do not want to move their businesses or their homes,” he said.
President Kenyatta acknowledged the support of development partners including Japan, the World Bank, the European Union, the African Development Bank, the People’s Republic of China and, more recently Brazil, in the country’s development agenda.
He also welcomed Japan’s willingness to partner with the Kenya Government in implementation of Phase Two of the project and in the development of Nairobi railway station viaduct.
The President also reminded politicians to practice responsible politics to guard against scaring away investors or threatening the prevailing peace in the country.
“Political competition is not enmity. Let us base our political competition on ideologies not tribal politics,” the President said.
President Kenyatta also urged Nairobi people to warmly welcome Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who is scheduled to make a state visit and also attend TICAD VI, being held in Nairobi later in the week.
Deputy President William Ruto said the Jubilee administration has launched projects across the country to guarantee a transformed country where all Kenyans live peacefully.
The Deputy President described Japan as one of the country’s genuine partners in development.
Others who spoke included Japan Ambassador to Kenya Toshitsugu Uesawa, Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero and Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed.
Mr Uesawa said the project also includes installation of street lights, traffic signals and walkways for pedestrians.