The removal of roundabouts on major roads in Nairobi is expected to ease the flow of traffic.
The plan will involve use of signalised intersections on Mombasa Road and Uhuru Highway. These roads are two of the main gateways motorists use to get in and out of the Kenya’s main central business district in Nairobi. The roundabouts that have been eliminated are on Haile Selassie, Kenyatta avenues, University Way; and Bunyala and Lusaka road intersections with Uhuru Highway. The plan also requires the use of traffic lights to entirely direct motorists instead of traffic police officers.
Nairobi county government to use KES400 million to manage traffic
Under the Sh400 million plan, an intelligent transport system has been installed to manage the traffic, together with a centrally controlled traffic management centre which will be managed by traffic police officers. The police officers at the control room will monitor offences and alert officers on the ground.
According to Nairobi County Governor, Dr. Evans Kidero, these roads are responsible to most traffic jams which notoriously build up during rush hours in the early mornings and evening. The motorist will now be barred from making right turns at certain intersections to avoid interfering with smooth flow of traffic.
The Mall intersection in Westlands is among the intersections affected, and now the motorists coming from the city centre or Rhapta Rd will need to drive and make a U-turn at Brookside Groove past Lions Place then make their way back to Westlands instead of making a right turn at the roundabout. Motorists coming from Westlands using Ring Rd Parklands will make a left turn and drive on to the U-turn near Consolata School if they want to proceed into Rhapta Road or Kangemi.
Closed roundabouts affects Mombasa road motorists
Motorists using Lusaka Rd have also been affected, and are not allowed to take a right turn at the Nyayo Stadium from Industrial Area. They will need to drive in the opposite direction and take make a turn at the South C Bridge then get back to Nyayo Stadium.
If a motorist is coming from Chiromo Rd and want to get to Riverside Drive, they will need to drive up to Westlands Roundabout and exit using Rhapta Road, then proceed to Ring Rd Westlands Lane which joins Riverside Drive. Other intersections that will be affected include Bunyala roundabout and the Old Nation (Khoja) roundabout.
The plan is seen to provide short term solutions to traffic problems and is expected to reduce the traffic snarl ups by up to 30-40 per percent. The County Council has also suspended registration of new matatus in Nairobi pending a demand analysis of all routes. The Governor has also issued a directive that will see trucks and heavy commercial vehicles passing through Nairobi from east to west banned from using Mombasa Road and Waiyaki Way until 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Dr. Kidero adds that Nairobi residents loose close to 85 billion annually due to traffic jams. Additionally, motorists end up end taking long time to get to the city which in turn discourages investments.
Other measures underway will see the Council engage matatu industry stakeholders to review PSV termini and bus stops in a bid to redesign routes and prevent matatus from terminating in the CBD.
But after the implementation of the plan, Nairobi has experienced rise in traffic jams due to confusion caused by the new rules. Other routes have also been affected as motorist avoids roads affected by new directives.
According to Matatu Owners Association (MOA) chairman Simon Kimutai, the new measures may not work as expected and insisted that for traffic jams to reduce, the County needs to restrict the number of private vehicles entering the CBD and motorists use public vehicles instead.
There has been an increase in traffic jams, due rapid growth in vehicle population that has outpaced development of road infrastructure in the city, for instance, city roads receive 7,000 new vehicles every month.
Earlier, there had been a proposal that sought to introduce high capacity buses that would be used to pick passengers in areas outside the city and transport them to the city centre. And according to Michal Kamau, cabinet secretary Ministry of Transport, the long term solution lies in the development of a mass rapid transit system.