Three years ago China started building roads all over Kenya, including an 8-line highway between Thika and Nairobi. It’s now 30 miles of 12 lanes!
(Stop! Yes, the Kenyan wilderness away from Nairobi is still beautiful and healthy. You still will find lions in the Kenyan wilderness. Not to worry, there.)
In the few short years since the Chinese road building boom started throughout Kenya, the growth of the satellite suburbs has exploded. People saw roads finally being built (rather than the money for cement bloating the pockets of politicians) and began to realize they really could live cheaply outside the city and still work there.
It’s the same dynamic China has been grappling with for nearly two decades of incredible growth. I, for one, can’t understand how on earth it’s going to work, but I’ve heard that China is doing pretty well.
Once all these cars get to the city, what will they do?
Kenya’s main newspaper, The Daily Nation, reports 1000 new cars are being purchased to be used in the city EVERY MONTH.
I’ve written elsewhere how you have to avoid arriving Nairobi’s international airport on any weekday morning, because the traffic is so congested that it takes up to two hours to move a mere 11 miles from the airport to the city center.
That’s not going to change. The great roads that China is building simply feed into the city. There are plans for a ring road to circle away those cars not intending to come into the city, but most of them are trying to get into the city, not around it.
The city center isn’t big enough!
This seems like a massive failure of urban planning. I’ve questioned the Chinese motives, because they are combing Kenya for oil and other business opportunities. But then, again, did anyone see Shanghai recently?