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Why Thika Town Welcomes More Roads Into Their Menu....

When area MP Alice Ng'ang'a announced that the National Government had this Fiscal year set aside cash to expand the road network within the town under the 10,000km annuity programme, the news came as music to the ears of the Thika residents. 

The announcement by Kiambu Governor William Kabogo that his government was initiating a programme to ease up traffic along Kenyatta Highway by expanding it into a dual-carriage way towards the Gatitu outlet, that too was some sweet melody to the residents of 'The Birmingham of Kenya'. The ink to the agreement between his government and the Prisons Department to open up Karatina Road has not yet dried up. Then there is also the proposed expansion of Haile Selassie Road that is scheduled to start soon after the completion of Kenyatta Highway.

All these developments mean one thing to the residents of Thika.. economic empowerment. More roads will directly translate into less traffic snarl-ups, less time wastage and eventually more economic output.

To understand this theory more clearly, we are going to evaluate the real economic impact that the marvelous Thika Superhighway brought to our lovely town of Thika. 

There can be no denying the fact that the Thika Superhighway has played a great part in the economic growth of Thika and the surrounding towns. Its reality emphasized  the fact that there were very strong positive correlation between an area's economic development and the quality of its road network. 

Apparently, road or infrastructural development brings multiple socio-economic benefits to an area. Benefits such as increased mobility, increased productivity and trade, savings in cost of transportation of goods and people and speedier flow of commodities besides changes in the lifestyle is quite evident in these areas since this mega infrastructure became a reality.

Prior to its construction, traffic jams along the former Thika Road that lasted the entire day especially on week days. Radio stations would always site it as a gauge to measure the intensity of traffic jams on other city roads. Mobility had become so expensive as well as time consuming to a point that most PSV vehicles avoided Thika Road especially past Safari Park area after 7:00am. At times commuters from Thika would pay as high as Sh.200 or more to Nairobi or back. 

So, when the Thika Superhighway became a reality, it came as a great relief for both Thika and Nairobi residents. Its impact accrued in numerous ways resulting in massive economic and social benefits quickly being visible and quantifiable.

First came the drastic drop in bus fare where commuters could now do the same journey for as little as Sh.40. This directly influenced the people's travel patterns. Mobility level increased as a result with more and more people getting lured to making social visits and recreational journeys to the city. 

Speedier movement of people and goods to and fro Nairobi encouraged more trade between these two urban centres due to convenience and a cheaper cost of transportation. As a result 'Thika became Nairobi', anything in the city being readily available in Thika.

The inhabitants of Thika started acquiring vehicles and motorcycles in their numbers. Traffic increased drastically not only on Thika Road but also on our town's roads. Traffic jams and lack of parking space became the order of the day, something that Thika residents only related to Nairobi City. 

The snarl ups along Kenyatta Highway near Gatitu or Haile Selassie Road towards the Chania Bridge near Blue Posts Hotel and the persistent parking space nightmare within the town's Central Business District (CBD) are good examples of the rise in the number of vehicles partly triggered by the completion of the Thika Superhighway.

This great highway also brought about a change in the living patterns or lifestyles among the inhabitants of Thika and its environs. There was some great infusion of new ideas regarding the latest technology, fashion, recreation patterns, eating habits, behavioral, mannerism as well as the way Thika people settled in homes.

Thika Superhighway was a great attraction to entrepreneurs who found a nice haven in Thika's serene environment to set up businesses, industrial units particularly the agro-industries which could easily access readily available raw materials from the surrounding centres. This in turn translated into more money and new employment avenues within Thika Town and its subsidiaries. The road generated employment within its own sector through road construction, in the road transport business as well in the industrial, agricultural and commercial opportunities that emerged.

Our commercial sector is now so vibrant. Nowadays it has become an uphill task to get commercial space to let. The Thika consumer is now spoilt of options for electronics stalls, beauty shops, boutiques, food joints; you name it. Banks and other financial institutions too have joined the fray. They are now scrabbling to 'partition the cake'.

Another outcome was reflected in the migration of inhabitants of Nairobi City to neighbouring towns, with Thika, Kiambu, Machakos and Kajiado being the biggest beneficiaries of the Nairobian exodus. This resulted into the fast growth of the real estate industry, within Thika Town. Thika currently boasts of playing host to among the most established real estate powerhouses in the entire country and regionally.

More recently, the highway has been noted to stimulate and help to expand educational tourism with some rapid growth in learning institutions. It has helped to accelerate linkages within the concerned periphery areas, thus multiplying the intake of students. This has directly increased employment opportunities for our residents. Who can dispute the economic implication brought forth by the entry into Thika Town of institutions such as the Mount Kenya University, Amboseli Institute of Hospitality, Jodan Institute of Technology, Uzuri Institute and so on?

We cannot also fail to take note of the increase in the number of commercial sex workers, fraudsters and conmen/women, street beggars and so on. Their increase is a clear indication that Thika is indeed a fat hunting ground with abundance.

Indeed, the economic weight of the Thika Superhighway is considerable, not only in quantitative terms (tons transported), but also in economic terms such as source of wealth, employment and in terms of support given to other economic activities. It has benefited this region by providing access to territory and allowing poverty alleviation to take place. It has further created and stimulated positive synergy and enhanced social cohesion and integration by giving Thika residents access to the same opportunities as those in the city and other developed worlds. It has facilitated the entry of new enterprises into our market and helped to improve the productivity and the competitiveness of our small and medium sized enterprises.

It is for this reason Thika expects nothing short of the best bargain for money. Those entrusted to executing these new road expansions should diligently do so in the best interest of this town and that of the future generation. Greed and ego-centrism should never be the driving force towards fulfilling Kenya's and indeed Thika's dream of becoming a middle-income economy by the year 2030. 

It is time our leaders showed real patriotism and be part of the history. It is time they did ask themselves this questions as they venture into this very vital exercise;-
"What legacy will I leave behind after my term in office? "What will I be best remembered for when I am gone?" And "What social investment will my children and grandchildren inherit from my deeds when I was in power?"

The answers to those questions will either equate our current leaders to or differentiate them from the world's and the country's greatest icons.

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