Kenya cuts S. Africa orders for Sh1.6bn rapid transport buses

James Macharia with SGR locomotive drivers
Transport secretary James Macharia with SGR locomotive drivers during the celebration of two years of Madaraka Express passenger train services at Nairobi terminus on Friday. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG 

The Transport ministry has cut the orders for Sh1.6 billion high-capacity buses for rapid transport in Nairobi by half in favour of buying some from local assemblers.

Kenya had planned to buy 64 bus rapid transit (BRT) vehicles from South Africa but will now acquire 32 and the other half locally.

This comes after the Treasury allocated Sh5.53 billion to be used in the construction of special lanes for the high-capacity buses in efforts to decongest Nairobi roads.

The BRT system is generally designed to improve a city’s public transport network relative to conventional buses.

“We are set to acquire only 32 BRT buses from South Africa. The rest of the buses will be sourced from local manufacturers across the country,” Transport secretary James Macharia said on Friday.“ We will provide you with details about financing at a later date.”


The Cabinet secretary earlier estimated the cost of each bus at Sh25 million, pricing the 64 at Sh1.6 billion.

The buses are to be deployed on the already-marked Thika Super Highway and other major roads within the capital city.

Special lanes

Each bus is expected to have a capacity of about 160 passengers who will use cards for payment. Kenya has opted for the BRT system, to support its rickety public commuter services and ease congestion, a plan that will see the creation of special lanes dedicated to more efficient buses.

In the city centre, the special lanes will be constructed along roads such as the Haile Selassie Avenue, Moi Avenue, Kenyatta Avenue and University Way, according to the agency’s designs. Outside the central business district, the Nairobi transport agency has mapped out five routes including Thika Road, Jogoo Road, Mombasa Road and Outer Ring Road that will have the lanes reserved for the special buses.

In 2016, Dar es Salaam became the first city in East Africa to launch a BRT system, which has helped ease public transport. Dar completed the first phase of the 21km rapid transit system, which has five terminals, 27 stations, seven feeder and three connector stations. About 140 buses operate daily on the special lanes.

Nairobi has in recent years witnessed an explosion of cars that is unmatched by the expansion of roads.