Kenya: Land Prices Triple as Sh14 Billion Mt Kenya Road Takes Shape

26 February 2021

Land prices have tripled along the route as the Sh14 billion expansion of the Kenol-Sagana-Nyeri road into a dual carriageway takes shape.

The upgrade of the 84km road will also mint new millionaires, with government set to pay off landowners, whose high-rise buildings in towns along the route are marked for demolition.

The new road is expected to open up the Mt Kenya tourist circuit, boost farming in the agriculture-rich counties, and create opportunities in the real estate sector.

It will shorten by half the time it currently takes from Nairobi to the central region and reduce the cost of ferrying farm produce to the capital.

Funded by the World Bank, the project traverses Murang'a, Kirinyaga and Nyeri counties where coffee, tea, potatoes, beans, maize and avocado are mainly grown. It also touches sections of Machakos and Embu counties.

The road will create an economic impetus for the country as it will ease the movement of goods from the Port of Mombasa to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. It is part of the Trans-Africa Highway, TAH4 (Cairo to Cape Town), through Nairobi on to Moyale.

Property prices along the highway have tripled, with at least 20 real estate brokerage firms profiled to be doing business.

In 2016, an acre was selling for Sh4.5 million along the tarmac. In 2018, an acre jumped to Sh7 million owing to upgrades of infrastructure. Now, the asking price is Sh8 million.

Mr Lincoln Kinuthia, a broker, has been receiving many deals from landowners wishing to dispose of their parcels.

"Land is easily available here. I have eight acres in Sagana town, which have an asking price of Sh8 million each. Three people have offered to buy three acres at Sh24 million and subdivide them into 24 plots. They plan to sell each at Sh1.5 million, which adds up to Sh36 million," he said.

Many investors are eyeing the hospitality industry where they intend to put up hotels, lodges and camping sites. Others are scouting for space to put up petrol stations, learning institutions and light industries.

The Kenol-Sagana (48km) and Sagana-Marua (36km) phases are ongoing, according to the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA).

Murang'a County Commissioner, Mohammed Barre, said they will put up a highway patrol base between Sagana and Murang'a.

"We're also establishing fruit sheds for vendors with safe access from the highway," he said.

KeNHA chairman Wangai Ndirangu said they will hire about 400 graduates in building and construction from Murang'a, Kirinyaga and Nyeri counties. "They'll gain [practical] experience by working with experts."

In Karatina, affected residents welcomed the project.

Several high-rise buildings in the town are earmarked for demolition. "Land owners won't block the project. What we need the government to do is to compensate us," Mr Peter Mwangi said.

NLC's Nancy Wanjiru said they will follow due process in valuing the land and cash crops, such as coffee, trees and bananas.

"We need proof of ownership of your land. We will value it at current market rates," she said.

Nyeri County Commissioner Loyford Kibaara said each case will be judged on its merits. "We are ready to resolve any disputes that may arise," he said.

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