Sh8.6bn bypass construction to start - Daily Nation

Bypass construction starts without approval from environmental body

Sunday February 8 2009

Administration police officers watch as a bulldozer brings down a house under construction in Utawala estate in May 2008 to pave way for bypass road construction. A similar exercise is expected beginning Monday, to pave way for the construction of Sh8.6 billion Northern and Eastern road bypasses to ease city roads of traffic congestion. Photo/HEZRON NJOROGE

Administration police officers watch as a bulldozer brings down a house under construction in Utawala estate in May 2008 to pave way for bypass road construction. A similar exercise is expected beginning Monday, to pave way for the construction of Sh8.6 billion Northern and Eastern road bypasses to ease city roads of traffic congestion. Photo/HEZRON NJOROGE 

Construction of the Sh8.6 billion Northern and Eastern road bypasses starts Monday.

But before the contractors get on with their work, the Ministry of Roads will first demolish structures and all the other developments identified for removal where the two bypass cross.

The two 70-kilometre roads bypass Nairobi Central Business District, to ease traffic congestion in the city’s roads, which has been a nightmare.

However, construction of the Northern bypass, which connect Thika Road with Limuru Road will go on before the Government has complied with the environmental laws.

According to the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) Chief corporate communications manager, Mrs Ruth Musembi, they are yet to give Roads ministry a license to embark on the project.

Before embarking on such a project, Nema has to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the area first.

And if area residents where the road is traversing raises environmental or social issues, which may be affected by the construction, the law says that such concerns must be addressed first.

So, when Nema went to conduct an EIA, residents of Runda Estate and Githogoro village said the Northern bypass – passes through a seasonal wetland valley that feeds into Karura Forest.

Public hearing

“What we have been waiting for is a public hearing for the issue to be addressed,” Mrs Musembi who spoke to Nation by telephone said.

But the Roads ministry through their public relations officer, Ms Rachel Keino said they have decided to do away with the public hearings.

“The contractor is already on site and construction work will have to start”, Ms Keino said.

Runda Estate runs through the wetland and the residents want it redirected to the northern side where soils are more suitable for a road construction.

The Roads ministry had given notice to owners of the structures to remove them, which expires today, Sunday

In the notice dated January 26, which was published in one of the dailies, the owners have been asked to remove all the “illegal structures and developments on the road reserves” for the constriction work to start.

"The structures will have to be demolished," Ms Keino said.

Asked why the ministry is skipping the hearings, as the environmental law requires, Ms Keino who spoke after consulting with senior ministry officials said:

“These people (structure owners) had been given adequate notice and the contractor is already on site and the project has to start.”

The Eastern bypass links Mombasa Road to connect with Ruiru-Kiambu Road near Kamiti Prison.

It will help vehicles travelling to Central Province to move freely without having to pass through the clogged city streets.

Residents of Runda Estate have, however, raised another complaint saying the Northern bypass had initially been designed to link Thika Road with the Nakuru-Nairobi Highway. And this was apparently for motorists going to Nakuru to avoid the city streets.

The designing was done in 1970 when Limuru Road served as the route to Nakuru from Nairobi.

Today, Waiyaki Way is the one that serves as the road to Nakuru.

So, why should the Northern bypass link Thika Highway to connect to Limuru Road instead of Waiyaki Way? the residents are asking.

They say the bypass will not serve the intended purpose.

In response, Ms Keino said she is not aware whether the Northern bypass had been designed to pass through the western side of Nairobi as the Runda residents are claiming.

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