Shipping & Logistics

Sh58bn cable car plan to tackle Nairobi traffic jams

A cable car system in east London. Trapos
A cable car system in east London. Trapos Africa is working to bring such cableways to Nairobi and Mombasa. PHOTO | BEN STANSALL |  AFP

Promoters of a Sh58 billion ($600 million) cable car investment plan that could be operational in the next two years say it would help ease Nairobi’s notorious traffic jams.

Trapos Africa, the consultants for the public-private partnership project, have come up with a master plan to ease movement in the city similar to one they have been promoting in Mombasa.

The plan, which will not require public funds, has already been approved by City Hall and is currently awaiting scrutiny by the Treasury and Cabinet approval.

Trapos Africa chairman Eustace Mwarania said they have prepared plans for a pilot project that would run from Embakasi, Donholm to Muthurwa — which will be an interchange point — before proceeding to Jamhuri, Kibera and Nyayo National Stadium.

“We want to free Nairobi from the usual traffic jams and this can only be achieved by embracing cable car technology,” said Dr Mwarania.

He said the transport network would be spread over several miles with fleets of large gondolas passing over Nairobi’s streets every few minutes, carrying up to 35 people each.

Cable cars produce no pollution, use aerial technology — rather than expensive ground infrastructure — and are propelled by steel cables.

The cables are strung between stations with supporting columns and are driven by motorised wheels that can reach speeds of 30 kilometres per hour.

They are mostly used in Western countries to ferry up to 11,000 passengers per hour moving in both directions — an equivalent of what 200 buses with 65 seats each, 700 14-seater matatus or 2,000 saloon cars can carry.

Dr Mwarania said they were working with CFC Stanbic Bank as the lead financier for the project that they expect to be operational by the second half of 2017.

He noted that the availability of this alternative mode of transport will save consumers both time and money as it will be cheaper than boarding a matatu.

“A passenger will pay Sh50 from Taj Mall to town whether it’s raining or not and save up to Sh100 per day compared to what they are paying at the moment,” he said.

The Kenya Ferry Services also intends to deploy cable cars across Mombasa’s busy Likoni crossing to address the frequent cases of ferries that stall mid-journey.

A 1,300-metre-long cable network will be erected to carry up to 28 cabins with 40 passengers in each car, making a crossing every three minutes over the channel that connects Likoni to the mainland.

The project will anchor the Mombasa Aerial Cable master plan that will see up to 11 kilometres of cable ways built at a cost of $350 million (Sh33.1 billion) to provide transport.

A study by IBM Corporation in 2012 indicated that Kenya loses Sh50 million a day due to time wasted on the road.

A report by Japanese International Corporation Agency, which the defunct City Council of Nairobi commissioned, showed that in 2013 the average speed of traffic in the capital was 40km/h, which was forecast to halve in the next 15 years in the absence of extra transport capacity.

The government has been working on reducing congestion by revamping the railway transport to create new stations as well as expanding major roads.

The African Development Bank in 2013 approved $120 million (Sh10.3 billion) financing for the upgrade of Nairobi’s Outer Ring Road.