Unlocking Nairobi CBD traffic should not hurt commuters


A policeman controls traffic on Kenyatta Avenue, Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

Many previous attempts to decongest Nairobi’s central business district have failed because of improper approach to solving the problem.

Traffic congestion in the CBD is an economic drawback in terms of production and culminates in to thousands of loss of manhours.

As much as the first urban mobility service providers sympathise with the situation, there is an urgent need for the relevant stakeholders — The Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (NAMATA), Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS), Federation of Public Transport Sector (FPTS), Nairobi City County Government (NCCG), and Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure — to convene a serious consultation forum to chart the way forward.

The solution that is needed is a holistic one. Boardroom decisions that are not considerate to the many Nairobians and Kenyan hustlers who toil daily and in the process contribute to the economic growth have no place in the city.

We are not sure if the NMS decongestion solution has taken note of the number of matatus plying Langata Road, Ngong Road, Argwings Kodhek Road, where we have over 3,000 vehicles. This huge number of matatu need adequate infrastructure space - a terminus with proper amenities and that allows free flow of vehicles so that other traffic models are not inhibited.

Inadequate PSV termini facilities, both access and exit roads, will lead to massive traffic congestions never witness before in Nairobi CBD once the relocation is effected.

Another serious challenge of the planned relocation of matatus will be the impact on the informal sector entrepreneurs such as mama mboga, who transport their merchandise, for instance, from Gikomba to Kibera and Ongata Rongai.

Equally, those being dropped at Desai, Fig Tree Muthurwa and Park Road sports, especially the sick, the elderly, the expectant mothers, people living with disabilities, will face massive challenges. Their situation will worsen during the rainy season. Who will also guarantee safety of the people who will be walking to the various terminuses at night?

The hard-working self-employed citizen will be inconvenienced so much as their will be no connectivity between the drop-off and pick-off points.

The new matatu termini at Green Park next to Uhuru Park is likely to face constant interruptions during national holidays whose celebrations are usually conducted at the park. The PSV operations will be viewed as security risk to the fete, compelling the event organisers to shift them.

The PSV investors and their lobby groups are calling for a transport operation system that will benefit all and sundry.

The NAMATA, FPTS taskforce has been working on BRT strategic plan for the last two years, a proposal that accommodates all interests across the board.

Let all stakeholders join hands and draft a decongestion policy that will be effective and make commuting of citizens in Nairobi smooth. Serious consultations mean stakeholders discuss the merits, benefits, challenges, operations changes and impact.

The discussions should focus on the private cars too as they are the main cause of traffic jams.

Mr Mbugua is the chairman Matatu Welfare Association and Secretary, Federation of Public Transport Sector.