Our city of Nairobi is slowly grinding to a halt and thanks to the traffic mess and clueless city fathers for the last many years . None other than Richard Quest of CNN noticed the snail pace of vehicular traffic which undermines all the efforts by the goverment to attract any FDI.
A couple of years ago I did share my thoughts on how to rid Nbi off traffic gridlock and why I felt building a suspended road along Uhuru Highway was such a bad idea.
My position has still not not changed. I have been fortunate enough to visit Bangkok and next door Addis Ababa who recently launched their light sky train. We need a sky train in the middle of Mombasa Road and Uhuru highway and NOT a suspended highway.
I note that GOK seems to be in the final stages to build a suspended highway that will also serve JKIA and hopefully they claim it it will be on a toll charge.
In light of the recent mess , what Nairobi needs is NOT more roads . What Nbi now needs is an orderly mass transport system .We claim Nbi’s population is now too high , please allow me to remind you that Bangkok is hitting 20 Million while Cairo is also very similar while Nbi is yet to even hit 4Million officially and we are already tired with traffic gridlock. What will happen if we do nothing and we get to 10 Million?
Nairobi and even those who own cars would be happy to take a sky train and leave their cars at home . I will be happy to take my train at JKIA to downtown Nbi .
What we need in Nairobi are three major lines just like Bangkok. One line should run from Athi River and in future Machakos all the way to Kangemi through Uhuru Highway.
2nd line from Ongata Rongai through Haile Sellassie through Kariokor along Thika Higway to Thika and Makutano.
3rd line outer ring to serve Eastlands. Close the rubbish tired Kenya Railways.
Each train has close to 8 coaches and each coach can take 60 pax which means 3 Manyangas or 25 seater PSV .
Goverment and Nairobi county under a PPP will build the line then Matatu Saccos will lease the coaches which means the current Matatus workers will be absorbed to run these lines which means job loss fears would have been addressed.
Many Nairobians drive to town . Get a secure parking and hit the city on foot. If given an option they will happily leave their car at home sparing Nbi the traffic gridlock.
I am not a transport expert but I keep my eyes open when I travel so how comes our policy makers cannot see such simple options to fix our traffic gridlock.
As you read this over the weekend, it is my prayer that our good goverment and donors abandon the suspended road from the airport but opt for sky train.
Without addressing a good mass transport system I am sorry anything else like extra road Thika highway style is waste of time .
It will be just a matter of time before traffic takes over. You can build more roads in future but first we must prioritise a mass transport system
Well as always I choose to remain an optimist but sadly time is of the essence .
Kenya Tourism Federation