- Road alignments follow the shortest possible corridors, with least resistance to construction and movement.
- And to minimise compensation and destruction of existing properties, where possible, roads traverse public reserves.
- The final road design and construction is, therefore, a function of multiple parameters tied to land values and project costs.
Roads are a delight. They connect villages, towns and cities for social and economic activities. Often, roads upgrade lifestyles, and values to abutting properties. But roads occasionally can also degrade our businesses or residences.
Road alignments follow the shortest possible corridors, with least resistance to construction and movement. And to minimise compensation and destruction of existing properties, where possible, roads traverse public reserves.
The final road design and construction is, therefore, a function of multiple parameters tied to land values and project costs. This constraining matrix explains why roads bring joy to most, but agony to some.
Our law provides that where private land has to be compulsorily acquired for a public purpose, such as a road, then just and prompt compensation is paid.
Legislation further prescribes that compensation should take into account the market value of the acquired property, the damage occasioned and the costs of relocation where applicable.
But there are cases that don’t align to this narrow band targeted by our law, yet suffer adverse effects from road construction. And until our jurisprudence is gradually refined, proprietors to such properties have hardly any wriggle room for legal recourse. They are sour losers.
In Nairobi, we, for instance, witnessed the upgrade and expansion of Thika Road to a superhighway. Many businesses fronted parts of the old highway between Pangani and Ruiru. They tapped direct access, and hence business, from it.
Oblivious to the fact that the highway would once get expanded, some erected permanent developments right next to the road, though within their boundaries. So when expansion happened, much as such properties were left intact and hence outside the compensation list, access was cut off, or left exposed to high speed traffic, unsuitable to business.
This happened to some businesses along Murang’a Road too. The recent expansion of Outer-Ring Road dealt a similar blow to some of the businesses. Though their property boundaries were left intact, their business frontages were so adversely affected that they’d to either close, be content with reduced earnings or change business models.
The elevated JKIA-Westlands expressway under construction will similarly affect some premium properties. Occupants to some high-rise developments along the corridor will have to tolerate the sudden nuisance from high-speed traffic right next to their third or fourth floor offices or residences.
In the rural areas, many are wont to erecting their residences right next to access roads. Usually, they keep their eyes on the existing road carriage and not the road reserve, hence contending with a false sense of privacy. When road expansion happens, such residences suffer endless dust and noise pollution. Where they are rental, value declines.
So, it behoves us to keep an eye on the future when making choices for construction or renting of offices or residences, particularly where these are near existing or proposed roads.