That Nairobi's Thika 'Superhighway' was an ambitious project is not in doubt. Ambitious as it may have been, it turns out that the sustainability and objective of the project has had a lot of people asking questions. A few examples of the questions being asked are: What was the objective of the project?, and Is the project sustainable in the long-term?
Anyone who frequently uses this route has to agree that the 'superhighway' has really helped a great deal in terms of easing traffic jams. However, during peak hours-especially in the evenings after work, there are several 'traffic chock spots' on the 'superhighway' that if they had an alternative they would rather avoid at all costs. Starting from the outcasts going towards the city center these spots are: The Kenyatta University main gate area, The Kahawa Sukari underpass, The Githurai round about, Roy Sambu round about, The Ruaraka overpass and round about, The overpass by the GSU headquaters, The Pangani area underpass and finally the Globe round about.
It is becoming clearer by the day that during the road design stage, the issue of population density was either underestimated, pushed to the side or ignored all together by designer, engineers and planners. Areas where population density is high and the road passed through them or near by them, ought to have been designed with feed roads and exit roads whose widths were wider than they currently are to ensure that the high number of vehicles using them were adequately catered for therefore reducing traffic jams. For instance, the notorious 'chock spot' of Roy Sambu ought to have been designed in such a way that flow of traffic in and out of the freeway is continous and not compromised as currently is.
Another important issue that ought to have been given priority during the design stage is the issue of rogue public service vehicles (PSVs). The outer lanes on both sides of the 'superhighway' should have been designed so that their widths are wider enough to take care of the reckless driving by this vehicles. Because the outer lanes on both sides of the 'superhighway' are always prone to being chocked by traffic and obstructions by indsciplined PSV drivers; the same PSVs have made it a habit to use the freeway then pull over right on the freeway and drop passangers there. This is tranfering the problem from the side lanes to the freeway and this will soon spell disaster.
Just a year after the project was commissioned, sections of the road have been vandalised by goons who like working under the cover of darkness. Street lights, Safety signs and some road barriers have gone missing courtesy of this guys. If this can happen in a year, what should we expect five years after the project was commissioned?
To sum up, Thika superhighway was an ambitious project; A project which some argue came way too early before its time. Others say the Kibaki government misplaced its priorities by implementing a project of such a magnitide while most roads in the country are in a dilapidated state. International media like CNN termed such projects as 'African fantasies' since they tend to focus on irrelevance while a majority of Africans survive on less than a dolar a day. If the issues of road discipline, vandalism and road courtesy are not taken seriously with regard to Thika superhighway, then what was thought to be a noble solution to an urbanization problem that Nairobi city faces will end up being a worse problem. This will in turn prove that the pessimists were right.