Sh400m plan to ease traffic in Nairobi gets green light
Plans for a road and railway master project aimed at decongesting Nairobi have been given the go-ahead by the National Treasury.
In the Sh400 million Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) project, 167 kilometres of new roads and railway lines linking the city to several satellite towns, would be constructed.
In February, suspended Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau announced the establishment of Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (NAMATA) to oversee the implementation of the project by both his Ministry and the Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development
The other partner is the Nairobi County government and neighbouring devolved units.
Machakos, Kiambu, Murang’a and Kajiado counties, together with Nairobi county and the Transport Ministry, had earlier signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly undertake the venture.
And since the project is being funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Ministry and the regional governments needed to bring the National Treasury on board to guarantee the loan.
“We are pleased to inform you that the National Treasury has accepted the implementation of the project. We are looking forward to smooth implementation of the project,” acting director-general, Public Debt Management at the National Treasury, Jackson Kinyanjui, wrote to the Principal Secretary, Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, John Mosonik.
The letter dated July 31 was copied to Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, whose county is playing a crucial role in the implementation of the project.
The project will see a commuter railway line built along Outer Ring, Jogoo, Mombasa, Limuru, Lang’ata, Ngong roads and Waiyaki Way corridors. It will run along the roads — some of which are currently being expanded.
The project also involves construction of a rapid bus transit system to be used exclusively by special buses, which will charge lower rates than other passenger service vehicles.
At the same time, additional special bus lanes will be built from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport road junction to Machakos and another one to Kikuyu through Waiyaki Way.
Two more bus routes will terminate at Bomas and Ruaka towns through Lang’ata and Limuru roads respectively.
There will also be an eight-kilometre tram service connecting the Nairobi Railway Station and Dagoretti Corner and an additional rail service connecting Nairobi to Ruai, Kasarani, Westlands and Kayole.
It is expected that the entire project would drastically reduce traffic snarl-ups in the city as commuters, offered the choice of reliable, safe and clean public tranpsort, will be able to leave their cars at home.
However, the long-distance public vehicles will not be allowed into the city centre. And only a few matatus will be coming to the City Centre.
Already, the government has invited consultants to develop designs and financing models for two of the seven main corridors that form the MRTS.
The project will be implemented in two phases. The first phase is expected to give priority to the bus transit system network, which experts say is easier to create. The bus transit routes will then determine the rail system.
Phase two will entail the actual process of constructing the lanes using the laid down network.
The continuing traffic congestion in the city has remained a big concern not only to the transport sector, but also to the entire country as the situation only gets worse day by day.
It is estimated the traffic gridlock costs hundreds of millions of shillings annually through lost working hours and wasted fuel.
Both the central government and Nairobi County have previously devised strategies of addressing the traffic congestion question without much success.