by Christine Lagat
NAIROBI, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's businessman Ben Maina used to grapple with hours of traffic snarl up while driving along Nairobi's Outering Road before it was upgraded into a dual carriage way by China's SINOHYDRO Corporation.
The middle aged entrepreneur regretted heavy losses incurred while transporting merchandise to his clients due to traffic gridlock that was synonymous with the road before its upgrade.
During an interview with Xinhua on Wednesday Maina was upbeat as he narrated how a gridlock free drive along the 13 kilometers dual carriage way has injected fresh vitality into his printing business.
"Having been an entrepreneur for the last ten years, I can say without fear of contradiction that traffic congestion along Outer ring road undermined my quest for success," Maina said.
The father of three left formal employment to establish a mid-sized printing business in a working suburb located on the eastern edge of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
Maina's painful experience with traffic snarl up as he struggled to build his business from scratch never dissuaded him from dreaming for a better tomorrow.
When the ministry of transport announced partial opening of Outer ring road in late July, Maina and his business associates sighed with relief aware that the days of traffic snarl up and attendant lost man hours were over.
"Its upgrade into a four lane dual carriage way has nevertheless unleashed an avalanche of benefits that include ease of movement to densely populated suburbs and the industrial heartland of this capital where majority of my clients are found," he added.
"Our relationship with clients has improved tremendously since it is now possible to deliver goods ahead of schedule now that traffic jam along outer ring road has been confined to the dust bin of history," said Maina.
He is among thousands of Nairobi's budding entrepreneurs and working class people who are relishing the partial opening of Outer ring road.
The China-built four lane dual carriage way is not only an architectural marvel but has as well revitalized urban renewal in a rapidly developing metropolis.
Kenyan officials are optimistic that an upgraded outer ring road will not only revolutionize urban transport but also stimulate commerce in Nairobi's densely populated eastern suburbs.
Silas Kinoti, the Acting Director General of Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA), said in an opinion piece published by a local daily in August that outer ring road will pave way for fast and efficient movement of people and goods in Nairobi and its environs.
"Outer ring road is expected to improve accessibility to the Eastlands area, reduce travel time for commuters and increase property value besides boosting the general business environment for informal traders," Kinoti said.
His sentiments were shared by ordinary Kenyans who previously endured hours of agony in traffic gridlock while commuting to work or residential premises.
James Okumbe, a real estate agent in his early 50s, said that an upgraded outer ring road has transformed his business within a short period.
The father of four told Xinhua that his relationship with clients has improved since he is able to commute to their stations in record speed using a taxi or public service vehicle.
"Before the outer ring road was expanded, I used to quarrel with clients since it took hours to meet them for a business transaction due to traffic jam," said Okumbe.
"That chapter has now been closed with the opening of a dual carriage way where vehicular traffic jam does not arise at any time of the day," he added.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) provided 80 million U.S. dollars for the upgrade of the road that commenced in late 2014 and is expected to be completed before the end of the year.
It is part of a long-term master plan to revolutionize road transport in Nairobi's metropolitan region in a bid to stimulate investments in key sectors like manufacturing, retail and financial services.
Kenyans who reside in the densely populated Nairobi's eastern suburbs have enjoyed a hassle free commute to their work stations since the upgraded outer ring road became operational.
Albert Chagema, a middle aged financial expert, who lives in a gated neighborhood adjacent to outer ring road said its upgrade has enhanced his productivity at the workplace.
"It takes half an hour to commute to the office in Nairobi's central District unlike previously when I could spend hours in traffic jam when outer ring road was very narrow and full of potholes," said Chagema.
He revealed that modern apartments, glitzy shopping malls and restaurants have sprung up in areas served by the upgraded version of outer ring road.