The government will upgrade close to 30 kilometres of the road stretching from the recently launched standard gauge railway (SGR) dry port at Kedong to Maai-Mahiu to accommodate heavy trucks ferrying cargo to Naivasha.
Transport Secretary James Macharia said the road upgrade would be given priority to prevent any damaging effects from the trucking expected to increase from next month.
“The road upgrade is in the plan as the goods will be transported by road to the MGR station for onward transmission to the neighbouring countries,” he said.
Mr Macharia neither disclosed the amount of cash to be spent nor the work schedule but the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) estimates the works will cost more than Sh1 billion, increasing the cost of effecting the SGR after construction stalled in Suswa on funding gaps.
President Uhuru Kenyatta flagged off freight services on the new railway line, which will not incorporate road transport in of at least 60 kilometres to get to Naivasha in the SGR Phase Two plan.
A 2.6-kilometre link road has been built to link the dry port and to the Suswa — Maai Mahiu-Narok road which is not meant to be used by cargo trucks. The trucks usually turn off to Naivasha from Maai Mahiu junction.
KeNHA Director-General Peter Mundinia said the works to upgrade the road had begun and would be extended to under a public-private partnership to Naivasha.
“We have started by strengthening the Maai Mahiu Narok road and it is almost done. We are marking it. Thereafter, the road will be expanded from Rironi to Mai Mahiu and up to Naivasha,” he said.
The road has also been prone to flooding and a fault line near Suswa, which prompted suggestions from Mr Macharia that the highway could be rerouted away from the floor of the Rift Valley.
The minister told the senators last year that the option would be to have a road constructed on a higher gradient, far from the cracking floor.
The road upgrade is also meant to avert possible traffic congestion along the road since the use of the dry port may shift the usual truck congestion from the section between the Nakuru highway turn off and Maai Mahiu to the 30-kilometre stretch should it remain in the current state.