Funding stalls Sh5.6bn Thika Road BRT line


Road works for the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) Station under construction along Thika Road Superhighway at Survey on June 7, 2021. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Funding challenges have delayed the completion of Sh5.6 billion Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system that runs from Kasarani through the Nairobi city centre to the Kenyatta National Hospital (KHN) area.

The 27 Kilometer Kasarani-Kenyatta National Hospital line which has been under construction on and off by Chinese firm Stecol Corporation since 2020 was supposed to be opened for public use in June 2022.

But Housing Principal Secretary Charles Hinga said Treasury was yet to allocate the project an additional Sh3billion required to complete it.

“The total project cost for the current line under construction was about Sh5 billion and we have spent up to Sh2billion to date,” said Mr Hinga.

“This means that we need an additional Sh3 billion to complete the current line.”

The first phase of BRT had dedicated two innermost lanes of Thika Superhighway to special high-capacity buses and erected boarding ramps to ease access to the buses.

The project was expected to support the city’s rickety public commuter service and help ease traffic congestion.

Other motorways identified in the project are the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to Likoni, James Gichuru-Rironi and Bomas to Ruiru roads.

Other motorways are Ngong Road, Juja, Mama Lucy, T-Mall and Balozi to Imara roads.

The corridors are expected to hold up to 950 high-capacity buses reducing travel time and cost by up to 70 percent.

In coming up with the project, Kenya was seeking to offer a private firm a 12-year concession to run BRT on Thika and Mombasa roads to ease traffic in Nairobi.

Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority acting director-general Francis Gitau said the firm would run 300 BRT buses.

Passengers were to pay a flat rate fee of Sh150 to use the bus rapid transport (BRT) to be launched in June along Thika road once the project is launched.

Currently, to travel from Kasarani to Kenyatta National Hospital, passengers must use two buses and it will cost about Sh120 for the one-way trip.

Passengers were to be given a card loaded with points that they can tap at termini situated along each corridor before they can take a ride.

Buses operating on the route were also supposed to be run by private operators but regulated by the Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (NaMATA).

The move to allow private operators to buy the buses is said to have been adopted after the government ran into budget constraints that will see it pull out of the planned importation of high-capacity buses from South Africa.

The government had initially planned to source 32 complete buses from South Africa and another 32 chassis for assembly locally for deployment on an already-demarcated lane on Thika highway and other major roads within Nairobi.

Parliamentarians, however, questioned the rationale of importing the buses without putting in place supportive infrastructure that was still at a design stage.

The World Bank estimates that Nairobi residents on average spend an hour traveling to work and another 60 minutes commuting back home due to traffic congestion

This has resulted in pain and chaos for millions of commuters amid traffic grid-locks on key roads and highways.

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