Separate bus lanes plan to ease city jam


Heavy traffic has for long been the bane of Nairobi. file photo | nmg

The newly created Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (Namata) has revived plans to ease the city’s infamous traffic jams through lanes reserved for public transport technically called bus rapid transit system.

Transport Principal Secretary Mwangi Mariga said the code-named corridors covering many kilometres across five counties and ideally inaccessible to other vehicles, are set for construction.

This marks a U-turn given Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia comments last year that the proposed special bus transport system had proved difficult due to lack of provisions in the existing road infrastructure to cater for special lanes for buses.

Ndovu, Simba, Chui, Kifaru and Nyati (Kiswahili for Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Rhino, and Buffalo) are the codes of the new lines, perhaps drawing inspiration from the fauna’s Big Five. These will form the extended Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system.

The proposal adopted during Namata’s first meeting in March also has a provision for commuter rail services, the PS told a Senate committee chaired by Abu Chiaba last week.

Namata was established on February 9 through an Executive Order to oversee development of a sustainable public transport system covering Nairobi City, Kiambu, Kajiado, Machakos and Murang’a counties.

Nairobi’s population has increased to 3.3 million from 350,000 in 1963 with the number of vehicles estimated at 300,000 without an equivalent increase in the road network.

World Bank committed to invest $300 million (Sh31 billion) in the project in 2012, in addition to $113 million (Sh11.6 billion) from the Kenyan government.

Construction of the bus rapid transit system was expected to start this year, being the initial phase of the World Bank-funded MRTS project.

The original design done by the Ministry of Transport would have seen Ndovu line run from Kangemi to Imara Daima.

This will extend to cover Limuru-Kangemi, Central Business District (CBD)-Imara Daima-JKIA-Athi River and Kitengela.

‘Simba’ will now cover Rongai-Bomas-CBD-Ruiru-Thika and Kenol while the ‘Chui’ line will run from Tala-Njiru-Dandora-CBD-Showground and Ngong.

A redesigned ‘Kifaru’ stretch will cover Kayole-Mama Lucy-Donholm-CBD-T/Mall-Bomas-Karen-Dagoreti and Kikuyu. Its initial design ran from T-Mall to Mama Lucy Hospital combining the Kenyatta Avenue and Jogoo Road corridors.

Apart from the Outer Ring road corridor plan from Imara to Balozi Estate, Nyati is being remodelled to cover Kiambu-Balozi and Imara Daima.