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New roads a boon to Mombasa

Wednesday June 28 2017
MSARE

Some of the property on the yet-to-be-completed Changamwe Roundabout-Airport Road, which is opening up the area. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA

By GITONGA MARETE

Major infrastructural projects in Mombasa West have sparked a rush for property in the area, leading to a sharp increase in land prices, with developers projecting further price increases.

The Mombasa-Miritini Road, Airport and Port Reitz roads are being expanded into dual carriageways, with work on the Sh23 billion projects expected to be completed in two months.

The construction of the Moi International Airport Road, which will cost about Sh5 billion, is expected to be completed by August, according to the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA).

While the Port Reitz Road is nearing completion, the first phase of the Sh 11 billion Dongo Kundu Bypass is more than 70 per cent complete. The road links the port to the Mombasa-Nairobi Highway at Miritini and is expected to ease the movement of cargo from the port.

The three roads are expected to address the traffic snarl-ups in Magongo and Changamwe, as well as open up the areas for investment. Congestion has discouraged investors from putting their money in big projects in the area.

The roads, which form an important cluster around Mombasa Port, will incorporate the construction of interchanges and overpasses on a six-lane highway, the first time Mombasa is witnessing infrastructural investments of such magnitude.

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CHANGE OF USER

The Port Reitz and Changamwe to Moi International Airport roads are crucial links to the newly constructed second container terminal and will improve movement of cargo from the port.

These roads are used by trucks ferrying cargo from the port, and are expected to address the congestion in Changamwe and Magongo.

Also contributing to growing interest in the area is the recently launched Mombasa-Nairobi train service on the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), with areas around the Miritini station attracting developers’ interest,  leading to  an increase in land prices.

“The SGR and expansion of the roads is a boon not just to the Mombasa West property market, but also to Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale counties. With the infrastructural developments, the Mombasa property market is one of the biggest beneficiaries and land along this corridor has already started appreciating,” says Anthony Murithi, an adviser with Kenya Projects, a real estate firm focusing on low-cost housing, with developments in Mombasa, Kilifi county and Nairobi.

“Most business owners are also seeking to set up  offices along Airport Road and in Miritini, creating demand for office space. This will in turn encourage more developers to build office blocks” he added.

The prospect of these areas developing has led to the doubling, or even tripling, of land prices in the last two years, according to surveyors.

In Port Reitz, for instance, the price of an acre has shot up from Sh60 million just two years ago to Sh100 million. In Changamwe, an eighth of an acre that was going for Sh1 millionnow costs more than Sh2 million.

Developers say land use in the areas is expected to change from residential to commercial, with banks setting up branches and storage yards being put  up for light industrial and commercial activities.

MODERN MALL

The same scenario is replicated along the 40-kilometre stretch between Mombasa and Mariakani, where investors are buying huge chunks of land and putting up warehouses and petrol stations.

Real estate agents say that they have already started receiving inquiries from prospective investors, with rents for new residential houses in Mikindani, Miritini, Mazeras and Miritini projected to rise.

Nzailu Nzeki, a real estate agent based in  Mariakani, says an acre along the highway is now going for more thanr Sh15 million, up from less than Sh500,000 three years ago. “Land prices started appreciating when the railway project  began and now with the expansion of the roads, we are talking of further appreciation,” he says.

One of the projects that has caught the attention of office and business space seekers in the area is Airport Centre Mall in Changamwe, which sits on 2.5 acres fronting Magongo Road, about a kilometre from the Airport turnoff.

The Sh700 million centre comprises a double-storey building measuring approximately 16,000 square metres with some 250 parking slots on the ground floor and basement. It is scheduled for completion by September this year.

The ground floor is 90 per cent occupied while the first floor is 40 per cent sold, according to Imran Noorani, the developer.

“This commercial and retail centre is going to be the first modern mall in Changamwe and will change the perception and outlook of commercial properties in the area,”  he says.

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