China-funded bypass expected to boost trade in east Africa.
The Nairobi Southern Bypass at Ngong Road/Lenana Interchange has been launched at a ceremony by the presidents of Kenya and Tanzania.
The 28-km bypass was inaugurated by Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta and his Tanzanian counterpart John Magufuli on 1 November, during his two-day state visit to Kenya.
China’s Exim Bank provided 85 per cent of funding for the bypass which links two major highways in the southern part of Nairobi and was constructed by the China Road and Bridge Corporation.
Kenyatta said the bypass would unclog the heavy traffic in the capital’s Central Business District (CBD) generated by cargo vehicles from Mobasa port whose destinations include western Kenya as well as a “large swathe of east and central Africa.”
However the road project, which cut through the Nairobi national park, faced setbacks from legal challenges by environmentalists who claimed the government’s procurement of national park land set a dangerous precedent for all national parks.
The encroachment into the home of wild animals, whose natural habitat continues to shrink, has also led to increasing cases of lions “escaping” into nearby human settlements. Earlier this year the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) mooted the possibility of moving half the park’s 35 lions elsewhere, conceding that in the future it may be required to fence off the park, effectively turning it into a naturalistic zoo.
A controversial railway project through the park is also facing difficulty, forcing authorities to draw up alternative routes to be presented for public approval.