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December 10, 2018

State introduces dedicated lane for PSV buses plying Thika Road

The lane along Thika Super Highway dedicated to BRT only. Courtesy
The lane along Thika Super Highway dedicated to BRT only. Courtesy

Transport CS James Macharia on Thursday announced that Thika Road will have a dedicated lane for public service vehicles.

This is in line with the government's plan for a Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS) to ease traffic flow on major roads in the city.

Macharia told the Kimani Wamatangi-led Senate Committee on Transport that the exclusive lanes will be introduced today (Thursday).

The CS had told The Star that the government was considering either BRTS or Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS). 

He said the plan which will be considered shall include a commuter and light rail option.

"For planning and financial reasons, we are giving the Bus Rapid System priority and urgency."

"Commencing next week, we shall have dedicated lanes for these buses starting with those operated by NYS servicemen," the CS said.

The government plans to introduce high-capacity buses of up to 100 passengers, Macharia added.

"Plans are at an advanced stage and the first batch of about 50 buses should be deployed in the next 4 weeks."

Macharia said apart from the NYS buses, the private sector is expected to bring in another 100 buses with three months.

"These buses from the private sector will complement the already existing ones. We are discussing with National Treasury on duty waivers in order to fast track this initiative," he said.

The plan comes amid outcry among matatu sector players who have objected the move to introduce NYS buses on various routes in Nairobi.

Matatu Owners Association chairman Simon Kimutai on Wednesday clashed with Public Service CS Margaret Kobia over the plan.

Kimutai accused the government of engaging in unfair competition with the private sector to push matatu owners out of the market.

"I don't know if the NYS did a study to establish the customers' demand before bringing the buses, which are already making losses."

"This is disrupting or destroying a business that is existing," he said.

Kimutai said the public transport sector is suffering losses from massive extortion by traffic officers.

Read: Plan to add NYS buses on roads irks Kimutai

Also Read: We'll frustrate move for Sh50 NYS buses until it fails - matatu operators

The question, however, is whether the Bus Rapid Transit System is the solution to the road congestion crisis in the country.

Tanzania is the only East African country that has successfully enforced the system through a project funded by the World Bank in 2015.

The BRT system was perceived as a critical investment that would end the crisis.

Currently, 28,000 passengers can be transported in Dare es Salaam in one direction per hour or a maximum of 400,000 passengers in a single day.

The project on a 29.9 KM road network created 800,000 job entries and the buses on exclusive lanes cruise at a speed of 50km/h.

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