Toll Highway, Expressway Projects to Boost Tourism
Construction of the much awaited Sh160 billion toll highway from Nairobi to Mau Summit and the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA)-Westlands Expressway are set to give the tourism industry a major boost.
The key roads will open up the Maasai Mara, Nakuru and Western Kenya tourism circuits to the world, directly linking up the Northern corridor to JKIA.
The Nairobi Expressway is 57 per cent complete, according to the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA). The 27-kilometres road should be done by June 2022.
The Nairobi motorway that has been under construction since mid last year begins in Mlolongo, connects JKIA to the central business district, and terminates at James Gichuru Road in Westlands, where it will join the Rironi-Mau Summit highway.
Mr Njuguna Kamau, a director at the East African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says the multibillion-shilling projects will be a great boost to the tourism sector, besides reducing traffic jams.
"The JKIA-Westlands Expressway will be a link between JKIA to the Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit highway," Mr Kamau says, adding, the roads will directly connect foreign tourists to the world-famous Maasai Mara game reserve and the Nakuru and Western tourism circuits.
"The planned upgrade will also provide visitors, business people and motorists a sigh of relief from years of traffic snarl-ups that take hours to clear, sometimes delaying their journeys to tourism destinations in Nakuru, Maasai Mara and the Western region, he added.
The Nairobi Expressway -- part of KeNHA's plans to improve the motorway from JKIA to Rironi -- costs Sh62.2 billion.
KeNHA Assistant Director for Corporate Communications Charles Njogu said: "The projects are set to be a boost to requisite development stimulus through reduced transport costs and travel times, reductions in vehicle operating costs and increased speeds."
Motorists along the Nairobi-Nakuru-Eldoret highway have frequently blamed KeNHA for heavy frequent traffic jams on the road.
Traffic snarl-ups, sometimes stretching to almost five kilometres on both sides of the highway, are a common sight, often forcing motorists and tourists to use alternative routes.
Rich tourism destination
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia says the Nairobi Expressway project is one of a kind in East and Central Africa and will act as a link between East of the country and the West.
"The expressway is expected to ease traffic flow on the Mlolongo-James Gichuru A8 section and to eventually reduce travel time through Nairobi," Mr Macharia said.
Nakuru Tourism Association Chairman David Mwangi said the two roads will be a major boost to tourists seeking to visit the county, which is a rich tourism destination.
"Tourists visiting Nakuru -- mostly foreigners -- are held up for hours in traffic jams along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway, but with the upgrade of the road, it will be a smooth travel to various destinations.
"The expressway will also attract more tourists into the country, [testimony] that proper infrastructure is key to boosting tourism," Mr Mwangi said.
Already, plans to upgrade the busy Nairobi-Nakuru highway from Rironi area to Mau Summit are gaining momentum as KeNHA lays ground for the construction that takes off this month.