MASS TRANSPORTATION

Decongestion of CBD starts after commuter rail system launch

The next focus is the implementation of the Bus Rapid Transport programme

In Summary

• NAMATA has gazetted 12 mobility corridors, seven of them for core mass rapid transportation linking Limuru, Ngong Town, Kenol, Kiambu, Ruai, JKIA and Konza.

• Concern has been expressed that the expansion of the roads will be a problem as most road reserves have been encroached on.

One of the new Diesel Mobile Unit at the Nairobi Central Railway Station.
One of the new Diesel Mobile Unit at the Nairobi Central Railway Station.
Image: ANDREW KASUKU

Slow but sure is how the much-awaited Nairobi Integrated Urban Development Master Plan is being implemented to end vehicular congestion in the central business district.

On Tuesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the Nairobi Commuter Rail System and noted that the next focus is the implementation of the Bus Rapid Transport. The two systems will complement each other when fully operational.

The Nairobi Commuter Rail System was introduced in May 1992 after a series of strikes by matatu operators brought public transportation to a standstill. But it remained stillborn for 28 years due to logistical problems and low demand.

The President said the Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (Namata) had gazetted 12 mobility corridors, seven of them for core mass rapid transportation linking Limuru, Ngong Town, Kenol, Murang’a, Kiambu, Ruai, JKIA and Konza technocity.

“The remaining five comprise rapid transport corridors along Line 2, which have been contracted and works on them will begin soon,” he said.

The head of state said the national government will ensure the corridors are secured in law.

“We will ensure the future expansion of the transport network will be done more easily at a much-reduced cost.

“We have now a reason to be proud of Nairobi for leading the way in Africa to creating a modern vibrant city where public transport improves the livelihood of city residents,”he said.

In May last year, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia announced the national government would link the commuter rail service to the BRT for efficiency.

He said BRT buses will ferry passengers from railway stations to the city and vice versa and also along select road corridors.

Last month, Namata director-general Francis Gitau said detailed designs for Line 3 (Chui) are ready. This line will start from Njiru, through Dandora to the Nairobi Central Railway Station and onwards to Kenyatta National Hospital, Jamhuri Showground and Ngong town through Ngong Road.

“We have a company that has already reviewed the designs which were done in 2015. Initially, the line was to terminate at the (Jamhuri) Showground but Namata will extend it to Ngong,” Gitau said.

The line will be funded by the European Union at an estimation cost of Sh40 billion.

The 20-km Line 1 (Ndovu) will run from Kangemi to JKIA via James Gichuru Road, Waiyaki Way and Imara Daima. It is also the Expressway and is due for  completion in 2022.

Line 2 (Simba) will run from Bomas of Kenya to Ruiru along Thika Superhighway.

Line 4 (Kifaru) will run from Mama Lucy Hospital to the CBD through T-Mall, along Jogoo Road.  It will be a 14-km stretch.

Line 5 (Nyati) will be on Outering Road to the CBD through the Traffic Control Centre.

The corridors are to be marked by red lines. Currently, only a lane along Thika Superhighway has been marked.

In August 2020 Kenya signed an agreement with South Korea under which the Far East Asian country will finance development projects among them BRT Line 5 (Outer Ring Road), at a cost of Sh6.4 billion.

Two years ago this month, Africa programme director for Institute for Transportation and Development Policy Christopher Kost said the expansion of roads will be a problem as most road reserves had been encroached on.

Only Thika Superhighway and the newly built Outering Road will not require expansion.

Namata will need to build bus stations, form a management company, a fare collection system and other infrastructure, all at a cost of Sh100 billion, according to the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy estimates.

Traffic snarl-ups in the Nairobi Metropolitan Area cost the country Sh2 billion annually.

Namata will require an estimated 900 BRT buses for the effective transport system.