The European Union (EU) says it has set aside Sh5 billion as a grant that will go towards implementation of the much-hyped Sh9.6 billion Nairobi Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) plan.
The cash injection will be a much needed shot in the arm for the beleaguered project that has been held up for more than five months due to lack of funds to buy high-capacity buses and build supporting infrastructure since road markings were done along Thika Superhighway in April.
EU Ambassador to Kenya Stefano Dejak said the money will be used to develop and install supporting infrastructure within three years.
“The one thing that Nairobi needs is to have an effective bus rapid transport system. That is why EU have invested a Sh5 billion grant to make sure you the people of Nairobi will have an effective, safe, not polluting, not jamming bus rapid transport system,” he said while speaking during the marking of World Cities Day in Eastleigh on Wednesday.
About Sh7 billion of the project cost will go towards development of five BRT lines and installation of the necessary infrastructure while Sh2.6 billion will be used to procure 50 high-capacity buses.
Speaking at the same event, Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and co-chair of the Nairobi Regeneration Programme - which the project is under - said that his administration will ensure that the initiative is fast-tracked to meet the laid down deadlines.
He stated that after the completion of the BRT system and introduction of commuter rail services, passengers and commuters should be able to access bus and railway stations safely by foot or by cycling, adding that the Nairobi Non-Motorized Transport policy states that all new projects must from now include the provision of safe walkways and cycle lanes.
“As the co-chair of Nairobi Regeneration Committee, to which President Uhuru Kenyatta is the chair, I will not tolerate any laziness in the implementation of projects funded by EU,” said Governor Sonko.
The event also marked the launch of the 2.2 kilometre General Waruinge-Juja Road- Thika Superhighway link road which is among the 16km link roads in the city that the EU is funding to ease traffic flow in Nairobi.
On his part, Nairobi County Transport and Infrastructure executive Mohamed Dagane explained that the BRT project had stalled due to logistical issues including bus specifications, engaging various stakeholders and fulfilling public participation requirements.
President Uhuru Kenyatta had issued a December 12 deadline by which at least two stages of the project must be ready for him to ride one of the buses during Jamhuri Day celebrations.
“We must make sure that we fit into the deadline given by the president. At least by December one or two stations working,” said Mr Dagane.
He explained that the EU grant will go towards development of BRT line 3 which is supposed to run from Dandora through Juja Road to city centre through Haile Selassie Avenue before terminating at Kenya National Hospital.
“There are 5 BRT lines...the European Union is supporting line 3 and NAMATA is putting priority on line 2 which goes through Thika Superhighway coming from Githurai before also terminating at KNH while BRT 1 is will come from Enterprise Road through Likoni road to KNH.”