Happy drivers praise Nairobi’s new Chinese-built expressway, finished early

Motorists in Nairobi, Kenya have expressed delight at the completion of the Chinese funded and built Nairobi Expressway, which runs 27km – much of it elevated – from the city’s western edge to its southeast, linking Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and the central business district.

The tolled highway opened in a trial phase to registered motorists on Saturday, 14 May ahead of its commissioning in the coming weeks, reports Chinese state news agency Xinhua.

Starting in October 2019, China Road and Bridge Corporation built it in under the three years originally planned. It carried out the work in a public-private partnership (PPP) deal with the Kenyan government, which saw the contractor finance the $600m project in return for a share of revenues in a 30-year concession that includes the construction period.

“It is one of the best pieces of infrastructure ever done in Africa,” said James Macharia, the cabinet secretary for transport, at a media briefing Saturday. “In fact, it’s the longest expressway in Africa. And so, we are very proud today to come to witness the start of the trial run, which will be done for about three or four weeks.”

He said 11,000 Kenyan road users have registered for the trial, with the final number expected to reach nearly 50,000.

He also praised the PPP deal, saying “we have not borrowed a single cent” to have the road built.

Xinhua spoke to motorists delighted that journeys that used to take hours in Nairobi traffic took minutes in the trial run.

One, Ibrahim Doboshek, said: “I am so grateful because I used to take 2 to 3 hours on Mombasa road due to traffic but today I have used 10 minutes.”

Another, George Were, said: “I recommend guys to use it. I know there’s the element of cost. But in terms of convenience, I think it is really value for money because a journey that used to take two hours is now down to less than 20 minutes.”

Further reading:

  • China starts work on Kenya’s $600m “Nairobi Expressway” to airport
  • President tells Chinese builder to divert expressway to save sacred fig tree

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