This week Mombasa County Goverment implemented radical changes in traffic flow on the island where dual streets were converted into one way.
My take on new Mombasa traffic system
By Mohammed Hersi
Firstly let me make it clear, I love new ideas and I am always pro change as long as the changes are both practical and sensible.
Mombasa county adopted the happy hour format where Abdelnassir road which drive through Bondeni and Nyali bridge gets converted into one way for 20 minutes and back log of traffic is cleared and normal traffic flow resumes.
I hailed the happy hour and I am on record for doing that
The new plan to convert key roads into one way was not well thought out and to make it worse it is meant to be a permanent shift.
First things first, driving globally is either keep left or keep right . In Kenya like in most commonwealth countries we drive on the left hence our cars are right hand drives and this is basic rule that any driver or rider would conform to and even google maps would use the same .
What Mombasa is attempting to do is to create a hybrid of both which has never been tried anywhere else . You keep left in the inner roads but moment you get to the changed roads suddenly that rule does not apply anymore hence the chaos.
Driving is meant to make life easy for everyone, it is meant to be an enabler not a source of pain for the the users.
Let me illustrate through a few examples
- Driving from Ganjoni to Nyali I am forced to drive all the way to Makupa roudabout and acess Nyali bridge via Tudor. Tota waste of time and waste of fuel.
- I am headed to the airport from Nyali I am now forced to go into the heart of an already congested city via Bondeni road and then Mwembe Tayari and take Jomo Kenyatta Avenue, surely who sat down and crafted such poorly thought out idea?
- To make it worse a sick resident at Makadara would now not be allowed to take bondeni route but take Kenyatta Avenue to acess Coast General hospital via Saba saba a complete detour.
- For school going children is even worse for them since most of the public primary and secondary schools are all on the island . Even worse alight from a matatu and run between cars, imagine that for a 9 year old its sheer madness and its reckless.
- For muslims all the cemeteries are on the island it will be an nightmare to acess them.
Let me now state the following.
- Mombasa traffic problem has NOT reached crisis levels to warrant such a radical move.
- The new system is only used during a calamity or crisis where rescue vehicles are given priority hence rest of traffic is directed elsewhere. We ain’t dealing with any calamity or crisis to warrant such. What is the way forward.
- Keep things simple… use the KISS principle ( keep it simple and stupid) . When you try to complicate things you only make a bad situation worse and end up with an egg on your face. Managing Mombasa traffic should not be a try and error approach . Some of the said roads dont even fall under the care of Mombasa county they belong to national highways Kenya National Highways Authority or so called A1 roads hence they must get buy in from them. Going by their notice it means they were in the dark.
- Implement traffic rules and ensure they are respected by all and sundry.
- Ban Mikokotenis on Nyali bridge between 7am and 9am. They cause serious gridlock.
- Ban water carts in the CBD esp Digo roads. Another course of gridlock.
- Restore sanity on Digo Road . Tuk Tuks and Matatus totally block the road leaving a small passage for the rest. What became of the old plan where they used to avoid Digo Rd.
- Trucks ban them during peak hours . 7am to 9am and 5pm to 7pm
- Ban driving school vehicles during peak hours and also stop them from parking along Moi Avenue . They hog entire lane leading to the gridlock.
- Ban promotion trucks during the day peak hours morning and evening and also lunch hour . They cause serious traffic gridlock. Who licenses them ? Same Mombasa county.
- Last count we had 12, 000 Tuk Tuks . There is only so many that Mombasa island can handle . For a start we should put on hold licensing any new more and also engage the Tuk Tuk riders on traffic rules etc. It will also help if we banned importation of diesel propelled three wheelers even better one day we go electric. Yes they must earn a living but we can help them get better machines.
- Install traffic lights at all the key points . Smart system allows to reduce the red timing if traffic is heavy and vice versa. In 2022 we should be running a smart city not what we are seeing lately.
- Once we have the traffic lights please make them work …we really dont need human intervention unless there is an accident. I have never understood my Kenya the only country where traffic lights work but a cop decides he can direct traffic manually . I see the same thing in Nairobi that claims to ro be leading hub in Africa. If we want to be treated like a king we must behave like one
- Introduce instant fines payable via Mpesa for traffic offence on Mombasa island.
Finally Google maps will soon suspend Mombasa island since the map is totally useless to a driver who is new in town and I am sure even the taxi hailing services who depend on this are now totally lost. I am not even going to comment on city tours now that Tourism was witnessing some recovery.
It is good to try but involve stakeholders for buy in and ideas , then it is said only a fool would refuse to change his mind . Mombasa county ain’t a fool please suspend your new traffic management system because it is simply not realistic and makes no sense . Dont wait for accidents and fatalities to revisit.
As always yours truly is choosing to remain an optimist