NAIROBI, Kenya, May 16 – Having an efficient and reliable mass transit system is the only way to decongest Nairobi, which has for long suffered massive traffic jams mostly caused by private cars and Public Service Vehicles.
Head of Transport Services at the Ministry of Transport Martin Eshiwani on Thursday said that cities which have efficient public transport have adopted the mass transit model which includes BRT buses and commuter trains used by people of all classes.
He was speaking at a forum organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs, attended by stakeholders from the transport industry to deliberate how to address the traffic challenges.
Eshiwani said the government already has plans on how to improve the reliability and predictability of transport system which includes BRT buses and rehabilitating railway infrastructure to a level where it can be can be used by low and middle class citizens.
“There is development when low and middle class can use public transport but not when the low class starts driving,” he said.
Early this year, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said that the government was in the last process of procuring the first batch of 64 BRT buses from South Africa for mass transportation in Nairobi and satellite towns.
He said that will be followed by light commuter trains, which is part of the Nairobi’s regeneration plan.
On his part, Matatu Owners Association Chairman Simon Kimutai said designating a special lane for Public Service Vehicles can also play a big role in discouraging people from coming to the city with their personal cars but instead use public transport which is fast and efficient.
“While BRT has a dedicated lane, we would also like to have a dedicated lane for public transport which they are not sharing with the private vehicles. With that in place, people will be discouraged to use their cars home and use public transport. The reason why people drive their private vehicles is because they would still reach in town the same time with the PSVs,” said Kimutai.
He said it was a good plan by the National Transport and Safety Authority to stop licensing 14-seater matatus.
The idea is to phase them out with an aim of introducing high capacity buses which can transport up to 80 passengers at a go.
Traffic congestion is directly linked to pollution, time wastage leading to economic losses.
According to the World Bank, approximately Sh50 million is lost daily due to traffic jams, which impacts the economy negatively.