Feature: Chinese-built expressway cuts commute times in Nairobi, delighting suburban residents

  • World
  • Wednesday, 07 Feb 2024

NAIROBI, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- "I can't believe it takes me 30 minutes from Kitengela to the office in Upper Hill during peak time and I only board one commuter bus," said Bella Mutinda, a resident of Kitengela, a suburb about 32 km south of the city center of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

Like many other office workers living in suburbs south of Nairobi, including Kitengela, Mlolongo and Athi River, Mutinda no longer has to wake up early in the morning and rush to her office.

"I now leave Kitengela by the 7:20 a.m. bus which uses the Expressway and arrive at work even before 8 a.m. Six years ago when I moved to the suburbs, I couldn't imagine this would happen," Mutinda said on Tuesday.

The significant change in her commuting experience started when a new central business district exit on the Chinese-built Nairobi Expressway was opened for use by Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Roads and Transport Kipchumba Murkomen last month.

The opening of the Haille Sellasie exit has improved the experiences of motorists and commuters. The five-lane exit terminates into two directions, enabling motorists to access various parts of the city easily and faster.

"The new exit grants motorists using the Expressway easy access to the central business district and reduces traffic congestion," Murkomen said during the launch.

Travel time from Kitengela to the city center has been reduced from two-and-a-half hours during peak hours to about 45 minutes following the construction of the expressway. The opening of an additional exit in the city center has further reduced the commute time to just 25 minutes.

Moja Expressway Company, the Chinese firm that operates the 27.1 km highway, said that traffic volume on the road had increased from 10,000 trips to about 65,000 trips on weekdays, an over six-fold surge.

The firm added that it was working to enhance customer experience on the road through additional lanes and exits. It promises Kenyans comfort, convenience, and seamless connectivity via the Expressway, especially with the new Haile Selassie exit.

Operators of commuter buses, commonly known as matatus in Kenya, have already taken advantage of the new exit to establish a new route to cash in.

Rembo Classic Sacco, whose buses operate the Kitengela-Nairobi city center route, started the new route on Feb. 1.

"Arrive in the city center in just 25 minutes from Kitengela using our new Expressway bus via the Haile Selassie exit," said the firm in a notice to its customers.

The company is charging 150 shillings (0.93 U.S. dollar) for the service for both its buses that terminate their journeys in the central business district and Upper Hill, a kilometer away.

Those buses using the lower road charge 0.62 dollars, but one has to endure heavy traffic jams.

"It makes great business sense to use the expressway due to time and fuel saved. We are happy, the customers are happy," said Joseph Kinyanjui, a conductor with Super Metro, another Sacco that uses the road.

"I am spending more time in the evening with my children after work because of the Expressway. I am now always at home by 5:40 p.m. after leaving the office at about 5 p.m.," said motorist Catherine Atieno, a resident of Green Park Estate along Mombasa Road, her sentiments echoing those of hundreds of others.

It takes her about 20 minutes to reach home from the City Center via the expressway, with the road contributing to keeping her family happy as she arrives home early.

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