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January 20, 2019

Sh1.4bn ‘smart’ traffic system to end jams starts next week

An aerial view of Nairobi's CBD on March 10. Photo/Monicah Mwangi
An aerial view of Nairobi's CBD on March 10. Photo/Monicah Mwangi

Nairobi is about to get the much awaited traffic control centre as part of the Intelligent Traffic System project.

Speaking to the Star yesterday, Kura engineer Merin Koitalek said once the project is complete, traffic is expected to flow smoothly.

There will be no human interference, he said.

The Sh1.4 billion project is part of the Nairobi Urban Transport Improvement Programme funded by the World Bank and the state.

The first phase of the ITS project is ongoing. This includes installation of modern traffic signalisation systems, such as cameras in 100 major junctions, for Sh340 million.

Kura said Kenya loses more than Sh140 billion every year due to traffic jams.

Cameras at road junctions are expected to capture oncoming traffic through digital number plates embedded with microchips. They will feed the information into the Traffic Control Centre.

Speeding will easily be detected and the details of the car will captured.

“Come December 21, Nairobi will go live with the new ITS.

“We are installing infrastructure that includes lights, video cameras, view technical cameras in the seven junctions along the Ring Road Kilimani starting at the Junction along Ngong Road all the way to Westlands Roundabout,” Koitalek said.

This means police officers stationed at roundabouts to control traffic will be assigned other duties.

“The control centre will contain visual technical cameras where we will be able to control the ITS in all junctions within the city,” Koitalek said.

The Authority expects traffic offences to decline once the system is implemented because motorists will be under surveillance.

Koitalek said the authority will work closely with the police, the county government and the Ministry of Transport.

“It will be easier to identify the traffic offenders and with all these forces more caution will be taken on fine payment . We don’t want cases where offenders will accuse traffic police of charging them illegally,” John Mwatu, Kura general manager for design and construction, said.

Koitalek said the centre will house a team of engineers, system specialists, traffic police officers and county traffic controllers.

They will monitor, act on data coming through and help to remotely allocate more time to the most congested roads.

Once the pilot phase is complete, Kura is planning to advertise tenders for the whole project by March next year.

An almost similar plan expected to cost Sh400 million failed in 2015.




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