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City centre still chokes with traffic jams

As the Nairobi County Government starts implementing a plan to replace five roundabouts, motorists are still complaining over jams.

Drivers say it is becoming almost impossible to use some roads in the city centre — especially east of Tom Mboya Street — where most parking areas have been turned into passenger pick-up and drop-off points.

Accra and Latema roads have been reduced to single lanes. Private parking areas have been taken over by matatus, creating endless jams on River Road.

Lagos Road, which connects Tom Mboya Street and Latema Road, has also been invaded by matatus.

IMPENETRABLE

It takes a motorist almost an hour to access Murang’a Road from River Road during rush hour. This is because the driver has to manoeuvre through the equally congested Tom Mboya Street, which is the main passageway for PSVs accessing the city centre from Thika Road.

They prefer the route because others are impenetrable from 5pm or early in the morning.

Matatu crews say the lower part of the city centre was chaotic even before the county government came into existence and that the problem has become worse following allocation of all available parking space.

There have also been cases of double allocation of PSV pick-up and drop-off points. Nuclear Sacco has gone to court to protest the allocation of its space to a rival sacco around Crossroad area in Nyamakima.

City Hall attributes congestion to new cars and matatus.

Recently, Governor Evans Kidero announced that the county had stopped licensing new matatus.

In the grand plan that was released early this month, five main roundabouts are to be replaced with signalised intersections.

EASE CONGESTION

The aim is to decongest Mombasa Road, Uhuru Highway and Waiyaki Way, which connect the coastal city with western Kenya.

Once congestion is eased on the highways, there would be few vehicles in the town centre, according to the county government, the Ministry of Transport and the National Roads and Transport Authority.

Nairobi Transport Executive Mohammed Abdullahi said roundabouts targeted for elimination are University Way, Kenyatta and Haile Selassie Avenues and Bunyala and Lusaka Road intersections. The fifth one is Westlands.

“We have already started erecting barriers on some roundabouts to block vehicles from turning right as a temporary measure,” he said, adding that demolition of the roundabouts would begin in April.

Barriers have been erected at Old Nation roundabout, which Mr Abdullahi said would stop vehicles from Moi Avenue through River Road and Tom Mboya Street from making U-turns.

At Westlands roundabout, motorists from the city centre and Rhapta Road have been blocked from turning to Westlands area. U-turns can only be made at Brookside Drive.

If proposals by a committee appointed by Dr Kidero are adopted, traffic congestion would be greatly reduced.

PERIPHERY AREAS

The Transport and Urban Decongestion Committee chaired by Prof Marion Mutugi was appointed to make suggestions on how traffic could be decongested.

The team proposed that matatus and buses should not be allowed into the city centre. They should drop their passengers at designated periphery areas.

High capacity buses would be introduced to pick the passengers and drop them in the city centre.

Dr Kidero has been under pressure from transport stakeholders to implement the report handed to him in October last year.