The construction of road bypasses to ease traffic congestion in Nairobi has occasioned a property boom in a number of city suburbs.
Real estate agents operating in places like Thome, Runda and Ruaka say property values have more than doubled since work began on the Northern bypass project in 2010 as people move in to live or invest there.
The project starts from Ruaka trading centre along Limuru Road through Runda and Thome estates to Ruiru.
It connects with the Eastern bypass which joins Mombasa Road via Embakasi.
Mr John Mwaniki, a real estate agent with business interests in Nairobi and Kiambu counties, says property values have doubled with prices of land adjacent to the bypasses up almost tenfold.
In 2008, Mr Mwaniki says, a 40-80 foot plot in Membrane, Ruiru on the Northern bypass went for between Sh500,000 and Sh800,000, but after the road construction began, the price has shot to about Sh4 million.
In Thome, Runda and Ruaka, the price went up by over 50 per cent, ad this was caused by quick accessibility created by the road, which also have investors from far areas to set eyes on the lands as the pas along.
“Everybody rushed to buy plots in the area because the road opened up the areas. When the demand is high, the price goes up,” he said.
In Thome, a quarter-acre plot now costs Sh18 million while in Ruaka the same goes for between Sh16 million and Sh20 million.
“Right now, it is not easy to get a plot near the bypass because they have sold out,” said Mr Mwaniki.
Before the bypass, the monthly rent for a four-bedroom mansion in Membrane where Mr Mwaniki lives was Sh15,000.
Today one has to part with Sh60,000 every month to live in such a house. Even in Kinoo, where rental houses have been relatively cheap, it pays big to be a landlord.
“The area opened up and everyone wants to live here due to its accessibility to Nairobi,” he added.
Karuri Town Council chairman Johannes Kimani said the road has led to an influx of people into the area, with a majority preferring to invest in commercial plots.
“We have been forced to dig extra boreholes but still we cannot have enough water for everyone because the number has gone up so fast.
And it is set to increase. The sewerage system is a headache, too. I wish the government would include such services in their planning,” Mr Kimani said.
Mr Kimani said more police posts have been constructed by the government in the area to improve security. However, Ruaka residents are concerned about the safety risks that have come with the road.
“The road is good and is a positive development. But it exposes residents to danger without bumps or road signs. The section that connects it with Limuru Road has been poorly designed,” Mr Kimani said.