EDITORIAL: Plans to combat traffic jams must be thorough


The traffic congestion in Nairobi needs a long-term solution. FILE OPHOTO | NMG

While plans by the government to ease traffic congestion in Kenyan cities by introducing flexible working hours for civil servants may sound noble, the initiative calls for thorough soul searching lest the blueprint ends up on the shelves like many others before it.

Our policymakers are renowned for coming up with good sounding plans that are rarely implemented.

It goes without saying that the traffic congestion in Nairobi for example needs a long-term solution.

It is estimated that the economy loses billions of shillings daily in lost man hours due to the endemic traffic jams.

The damage to the environment and people’s health as a result of pollution is also immense.

The Public Service ministry has instructed staff living and working in Nairobi to provide details of their areas of work and residence for the purpose of generating data that will help determine split working hours for the sector.

The aim is to regulate reporting and leaving time to and from work so as to decongest the capital city. Civil servants currently work between 8 a.m and 5 p.m in a 35-hour weekday schedule

We must, however, warn that while it may sound good on paper, implementing such a plan may not only end up being onerous but also has its inherent risks.

For example, many would ask whether their security will be assured or if transport and food facilities will be assured.

But even as the policy wonks strike to find an answer to the traffic congestion problem, it may also help to glean lessons from other countries. Rwanda for example has rolled out a monthly car free day in the capital Kigali.

Maybe it is time such a plan was rolled out in Nairobi to see how feasible it would be in the long run.