It is well known and understood that public transport in Nairobi is accompanied by the struggles of traffic jam and misbehaviour by public service drivers. Just recently at the beginning of March, the long rain season began earnestly.
On Saturday 3rdMarch 2018, passengers and motorists were stranded for over 20 hours in traffic jam that had been caused by an accident involving a lorry and a pick-up along Mombasa-Nairobi road, near the turn off to Daystar University. This is a situation that is expected to be cleared up in no time to allow for normalcy to return, but instead the rains and vehicles overlapping turned the situation into a tremendous chaos. The implication of this to the road users and common ‘mwananchi’ is hiked fares by PSVs, loss of business, fatigue and so much time wastage on the roads.
This is one of the key challenges in transportation planning. Planners have been engaging fellow planners and other professionals in seeking solutions to address these challenges causing traffic congestion. Arguments have been put forward suggesting that the number of private vehicles on the road should be reduced, but how do we do it without giving an alternative solution? Other suggestions have been to set up bus termini for PSVs outside the City, which the Governor of Nairobi tried to do in the late 2017 but this directive had to be shelved for some time since there is no existing support infrastructure to enable its implementation.
Many of these transport problems are always attributed to poor integration of land use and transportation planning ad designing. Traffic congestion along roads inconveniences commuters in accessing the CBD, leading to wastage of time and money. A good road with smooth traffic flow reduces travel time and encourages investments. On the flipside, an effective transportation system helps to maximize the economic efficiency of the city, while an inferior system retards economic progress. It is for this reason that issues of transportation planning can never be ignored. How can we re-think this subject to improve our economy and have an efficient transport system?
By Barake Bosibori, CURI.