Highway Construction in Densely Populated Areas - What Kenya Can Learn from China
The Government of Kenya through KURA intends to upgrade the Outer-Ring Road from its current condition to a dual-carriageway with additional bus lanes. Kenya can borrow a leaf from the East on how they did with the Jiangdong and Huju Lu roads in Nanjing
Its new year season here in China and in Nanjing, the upcoming Youth Olympics Game in July will present yet another opportunity for the Provincial Government on Jiangsu to market the city. Nanjing is the capital of the province and has a population of 7million(2011). Transport facilities must be functional at all times to cater for such large masses. The city authorities expect a surge in population as the games approach and an equal pressure in the transportation channels.
In addition to opening new subway lines, the authorities, since last year undertook the upgrading of two core transportation corridors in Nanjing. The Jiangdong Lu and Huju Lu roads. All these pass through densely settled urban areas and involved multiple tunnel construction. December 2013 saw the opening of the said projects in tandem. Residents expressed their relief in what was one year of perennial road closure and untold traffic snarl-ups.
For more than a year it has been particularly difficult to get to and from work. The minimal space has meant cars have been mounting the pavement and pushing cyclists and pedestrians into each other. The new road is a big relief! - Ma Cunling (NanjingExpat.com)
Kenya plans to start the upgrading of Outer Ring to a modern dual carriageway with additional bus lanes. Though it will not involve underground works, the location of the project will present similar challenges as seen in the East Asian city of Nanjing. According to the ESIA Report the total population of the project districts is 2,206,502 representing 70% of Nairobi County’s population.
Nairobi East has a population of 1,144,416 (36.47%) and Nairobi North, 1,062, 086 (33.84%) The population growth rate for Nairobi districts is 4%. The northern and eastern part of Nairobi City County is the most densely populated part of the City. Besides the human settlements in the area, the project area is also adjacent to the industrial suburbs of Baba Dogo, Kayole and the main Industrial Area.
Keep It Flowing
Despite the tight conditions and space restrictions it is vital that the traffic, at all times is in motion. It both cases, during rush-hours traffic density as well as that of pedestrians increases twice fold. This should be anticipated. The Chinese solved the above by initially diverting traffic well before the project road under-construction. Road space was doubled during rush hours and reduced at light traffic hours periodically.
Road Safety Signs
A well illustrated road sign can save dozens of lives. One of the complains raised during the construction of the Nairobi-Thika Highway was the poor signage. Despite the occasional theft of signage, the signage should be of good low cost material that is visible clearly even at night hours. The above should be placed on connecting roads, a good distance before the road under-construction.
This can not be overlooked. The section under construction should be fenced appropriately and only authorised personnel. Construction materials attract curious onlookers. Its quite hard to access a construction site in Nanjing without proper documentation. Such additional measures have proved adequate in the long run.
A highway project is only as good as the periodic maintenance. Maintenance of highway in Nanjing is given priority to such an extent that the major arteries are in good, near perfect conditions. Kenya should follow to make sure that her roads are well maintained. Once Outer Ring is upgraded, a proper mechanism should be put in place to ensure periodic maintenance is done.
Do a Good Job
Lastly the end product will be a compilation of the above and much more. A high-standard road will not only last for a long period but ensure safety to all users. In China, Ministry of Communications is responsible for the supervision and management of the construction of China's national highways.