State shelves plan to import BRT buses from SA

Local bus assembly and body fabricators are set for a major boost after Housing and Urban Development Principal Secretary Charles Hinga reversed a decision to import Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) vehicles from South Africa.

Mr Hinga, on Monday said preference will now be given to the supplier of the Mercedes Benz buses to assemble the high capacity buses in the country, at a cost that is yet to be established.

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

The first batch of the 30 BRT vehicles, which had already been identified in South Africa has delayed to arrive in the country since last year.

“The buses are Mercedes Benz. The supplier of the buses will set up a local plant here to do the right specifications. On BRT, we will not cut corners. Local suppliers have been given the specifications and they can also supply,” Mr Hinga.

It not year clear where the supplier of the buses will set up a plat in Kenya and the expected timeline, dashing hopes of a majority of Kenyans from using the buses soon.

It is also not clear whether it is Mercedes Benz that will set up the plant or another company that is authorized to fabricate the buses on behalf of the South Africa-based supplier.

But the move is set to be supported by local assemblers who have been pushing the state not to import the buses from South Africa.

Last week Isuzu East Africa managing director Rita Kavashe called upon the government to set up the right policy in place to guide the implementation of the BRT.

“We have the capacity to do more BRT buses. This can only happen when the government comes up with a proper policy as to how the BRT plans should be implemented in the country,” said Ms Kavashe in an interview with the Business Daily.

The government is set to launch six Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors in Nairobi in a move aimed at reducing traffic congestion in the capital.

Priority corridors are JKIA to Likoni, James Gichuru-Rironi and Bomas to Ruiru roads.

Others motorways also identified include Ngong Road – Juja, Mama Lucy–T-Mall and Balozi to Imara roads. At their optimum capacity, the corridors are expected to hold up to 950 high capacity buses reducing travel time and cost by up to 70 per cent, according to the CS.