The Nairobi County government last month unveiled an ambitious plan to address perennial traffic jams in the city, which involve construction of new roads and the phasing out of a number of roundabouts.
The plan, to be jointly undertaken by the central and county governments, is pegged on a memorandum of understanding signed in October last year by the Transport ministry with several counties for cooperation, with a view to easing transport in the larger Nairobi Metropolitan area.
“We are alive to the fact that congestion situation in Nairobi requires immediate action, but we are also aware that a one-off quick fix will not deliver the results Kenyans deserve and therefore the approach will be focused, consistent and systematic devoid of the fear to experiment, make mistakes and correct them,” read a joint statement by Governor Evans Kidero and Transport CS Michael Kamau
Amongst the measures the plan identifies is a review of PSV termini in the city, to redesign routes and terminate PSV services in the CBD. Consequently, all matatus will be required to drop passengers at designated points outside the city, to be ferried by high capacity buses, which the county is in the process of acquiring. Further, the county has stopped licensing new PSVs for the time being.
Further, 21 road junctions have been identified for improvement along the arterial roads to improve traffic flow, which include Ngong Road, Argwings Kodhek, Haile- Selassie, Jogoo Road, Mombasa Road, Langata Road and Kiambu Road. Already, implementation is taking place along Ngong road at Muchai Drive. Among the roundabouts set for removal, which will improve flow by about 40 per cent, are those along Waiyaki Way-Uhuru Highway-Mombasa Road – there are 6 roundabouts where 70 percent of traffic builds up during rush hours thereby hindering smooth flow along the busy stretch. These will be substituted with signalized intersections.
In the medium term, both levels of government will work to expand the road network corridors in and out of the city. Some of these, like the Outering Road, have already been started and will be completed soon. Construction of the Southern bypass – for west-bound traffic that does not need to pass through the CBD – is also ongoing and should be completed very soon.
In addition, an Intelligent Transport System with centrally controlled Traffic Management Centre for the City will be implemented to manage traffic movement. This will also address indecent road behaviour, which is to blame to some extent, for the current traffic problems.
Said Transport CS Michael Kamau: “It is noteworthy that some of the traffic jams are caused by lack of courtesy and bad driving habits. We urge all drivers to act with courtesy and avoid bad driving habits like overlapping.”
Ultimately, the city plans to offer a sustainable solution to traffic congestion by developing and implementing an efficient and effective mass rapid public transport system that will include Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) commuter rail and Light Rail Transit (LRT), the developments of which are at various stages of implementation. The development of these systems is at various stages of implementation.
At the launch of the plan, the governor urged different stakeholder to support his government’s efforts by diligently playing their roles.
“We recognise that we require the support of all our stakeholders who include PSV operators, commercial and private vehicle owners. We also look forward to the support of the media in communicating some of the changes we will be making and giving us feedback on what is working and what is not working so that we can keep the city of Nairobi moving,” the statement said.