A new Chinese-built expressway in the Kenyan capital Nairobi will help improve the economy of the African nation, Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for transportation and infrastructure, James Wainaina Macharia, said on Saturday.
The expressway opened to traffic for trial runs on Saturday and is anticipated to increase local work, ease traffic jams, and bring a raft of economic benefits to the infamously overloaded city.
Macharia hailed the expressway as one of the 'best pieces of infrastructure' ever built on the African continent.
"This road will have an extremely, very big impact in terms of movement of Kenyans, visitors, business man, business women, tourists. This is one of the very best pieces of infrastructure ever performed in Africa. In fact, it's the longest expressway in Africa. So we are extremely happy today (Saturday) to come to witness the start of the trial run and monitor to make sure that certainly the expressway will be operated flawlessly and in a very high standard," he stated.
The expressway stretches 27 kilometers through the heart of Nairobi, connecting Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to Nairobi's Central Business District, the National Museum and the Presidential Palace.More than 10,000 people have currently signed up to use the expressway, with an average of 800 people signing up every day.
"Definitely, I will utilize it typically. It's practical, and ideally it will remain like that for the rest of its lifetime," said one Nairobi driver.
The expressway is currently developing direct employment opportunities for Nairobi's employees, with staff members at the state-of-the-art expressway monitoring center welcoming the chance to find out new technologies and softwares that keep the road running smoothly.
"We are doing the traffic monitoring and handling the automated detection system. We have the ability to spot if there is any congestion in the expressway, if there is any pedestrian crossing, if there is any car reversing in the expressway. And thus, we are able to connect to the responsible department to manage the problem on the expressway. We provide to our nation a really smart, smooth and safe and fast travel experience. We are able to find out a great deal of softwares here, like we found out about the software which enables the cameras. Also, in the monitoring center, I've found out some Chinese words," stated Martha, a staff member operating at the expressway monitoring center.
The 73.5 billion shillings (about $648 million) road is expected to cut travel time from the south to the west of Nairobi to about 20 minutes from two hours presently during peak time.
The expressway was funded and developed by China Road and Bridge Corporation under a public-private collaboration model. Full-scale building of the infrastructure project started in September 2020 and was completed a year ahead of schedule.
Constructing the expressway developed more than 6,000 direct jobs, benefiting 200 sub-contractors and hundreds of other local providers of structure products such as steel, sand, cement and ballast.