INFRASTRUCTURE

State moves to tame city traffic with rail plan

It is estimated that Nairobi traffic jams bleed Sh120bn from economy.

In Summary

Cabinet has approved implementation of the Kenya Urban Mobility Improvement Project, to improve urban mobility in Nairobi Metropolitan Area (NMA).

The project will entail revamping commuter rail service, including undertaking feasibility studies and detailed design for the entire 163km commuter rail network.

Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen during a meeting at his office on July 8, 2024.
Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen during a meeting at his office on July 8, 2024.
Image: HANDOUT

Lost productivity in Nairobi's traffic jams is now estimated to cost about $1 billion (about Sh128.5 billion) annually translating to Sh10.7 billion monthly according to the Transport ministry and the Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport.

To tame this, Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen on Wednesday said the government has embarked on a mobility improvement project with a main focus on rail, to enhance movement

The perennial Nairobi traffic jams continue to see hundreds of business deals, travellers missing flights and workers wasting valuable time in traffic to and form work, amid other inconveniences.

The average travel time within the city and its environs is estimated at 57 minutes, with the traffic congestions worsening by year mainly on the ever increasing motorisation brought about by economic activities and rural urban migration.

This, the Transport ministry says has continued to pile pressure on the city’s road infrastructure, necessitating investments in feeder roads and non-motorised transport infrastructure.

“The glow and freshness of Nairobi, once known as the Green City in the Sun, has been destroyed by traffic jams and vehicular congestion on our roads, which has led to an increase in carbon emission,” said Murkomen.

This follows an okay by Cabinet, which has granted the ministry approval to implement the Kenya Urban Mobility Improvement Project (KUMIP), whose objective is to improve urban mobility in Nairobi Metropolitan Area.

The mobility improvement project entails revamping of commuter rail service, including undertaking feasibility studies and detailed design for the entire 163km commuter rail network in Nairobi Metropolitan Area.

It also involves upgrading of Thika line from Nairobi Central Station to Thika (58km) with additional railway stations, acquisition of new multiple-unit train sets, a workshop, upgrading of selected railway stations and provision of improved feeder bus services connecting railway stations and existing road network.

“We will also be constructing feeder roads and non-motorised transport infrastructure to enhance accessibility of the commuter railway stations,” Murkomen said.

The plan further includes adoption of green mobility solution to address urban public transport carbon emission, and Transit-Oriented Development (ToD) along commuter rail at selected stations, and station area development focusing on access to railway stations and business units.  

“Towards this initiative, we have commenced the formulation of a National Urban Transport Policy to guide the development, management, financing, and regulation of urban transport at National and County Government levels,” Murkomen said.

The ministry is also rehabilitating the commuter rail network, refurbishing coaches, construction of 20 stations (10 completed and 10 ongoing), as part of urban transport improvement programme, which will increase the number of people using the commuter rail network from 20,000 to 120,000 by the end of the year. 

Stations which will be ready for use by October this year include Mlolongo, Kitengela, Lukenya, Mutindwa, Kariobangi, Kenyatta University, Gitambaya (Ruiru, Aviation, Kibera, Satellite, Mutwini, Thogoto and Gitaru.

The network will help decongest the city and ensure seamless movement of people within the Nairobi metropolitan areas of Machakos, Kiambu, Murang’a and Kajiado.

 In addition, as part of urban mobility improvement programme, the ministry has also commenced the process of setting up an Automatic Fare Collection System (AFCS) to enable seamless intermodal transportation and a single fare payment system across the transport modes.

In Mombasa, a new line connecting Miritini SGR terminus to the Mombasa Central Business District is also in the final stages of completion and will be ready for use in September this year.

In February, Cabinet sanctioned the execution of the Nairobi Intelligent Transport System (ITS) Establishment and Junction Improvement Project, with the aim of alleviating traffic congestion within the city.

The Cabinet highlighted that implementation of the project will ensure Kenya's alignment with international best practices in city management.

"This seminal project is expected to revolutionise traffic management in Kenya, eliminating human interfaces in traffic control, and streamlining the payment of penalties for traffic offences," reads the Cabinet despatch.

 

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