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Nairobi’s new commuter system takes shape

The future of Nairobi’s new commuter system has begun to take shape in what offers hope against chaotic scenes and congestion in the city’s metropolis.

It is a vision of a Nairobi that will have an orderly ticketing service, specialised lanes for vehicles, policing of bus lanes, certainty on the roads and a better life for city residents.

The Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system, which is in its first phase, envisions having five main lines of commuting — Ndovu Line 1, Simba Line 2, Chui Line 3, Kifaru Line 4 and Nyati Line 5.

By 2030, a city resident at Caltex in Donholm would be able to ride to T-Mall through Nairobi Hospital on the same ticket.

“Congestion and inconvenience is a huge problem for commuters in Nairobi, but this project is one of the important measures to reduce that,” Mr Paul Osano, a transport engineer at Gauff Consultants, said in an interview.


“This system envisions a city where commuters benefit from a single transit network, timetable and a specified tariff on fares. What we are doing is traffic modelling to see how the future will look like,” he said.

The idea of bringing Nairobi’s transport chaos to an end was born in 2009, when the Ministry of Transport commissioned a feasibility study. The results were submitted in 2011.

The government and donors thought at the time that the traffic problems in the city could end if the flow is modelled on a better system.

“Only investment in a comprehensive public transport system will bring the real improvements in traffic flow that the capital needs and deserves,” said Mr Dorian Kivumbi, the Head of Infrastructure Development at the European Union in Kenya.

The EU will be financing some of the lines to the tune of Sh15 billion, in partnership with financial institutions such as the German Development Bank and the European Investment Bank.



“It is not just about the engineering and construction works, but also designing a scheme that meets the needs of travellers and traffic, and this requires thorough studies of how travellers use the existing transport network,” Mr Kivumbi said.

Gauff Consultants were then hired by the government to do a detailed study on Kifaru Line 4 East, which begins at Mama Lucy Hospital through Kayole Spine Road, Manyanja Road, Jogoo Road and Landhies Road in town.

The transit network, a result of a harmonisation study, was approved by the government last year in May.

Kifaru Line Four East is a design of normal traffic lanes, dedicated bus lanes with associated road furniture and, in future, light rails from Jogoo Road to the city centre in the eastern part of the metropolis, estimated to be the most populous in Nairobi.

The project now awaits approval of funds from the African Development Bank, which is financing Line Four East, to proceed.


The network is designed such that Line 4 will be linked to four others so that in the next 10 years, each of the lines will have lanes for buses, smaller vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians and even people with disability.

That means no cart pullers will dash across the main roads and bikers and pedestrians will no longer compete with vehicles on the road.

The European Union has agreed to finance the design work and construction of Line 3 (Ngong-Juja corridor) and the western section of BRT Line 4 (Mbagathi corridor).