Bus Rapid Transit lanes mark first anniversary, but where are the buses?
It is now a year since the red line was painted on Thika Superhighway in readiness for the Bus Rapid Transit System, but none of the pledge for high capacity buses has been fulfilled.
Last year a time like this, city residents woke to some action on the Superhighway as the Kenya Highways Authority (KenHa) staff painted a red line labeled “Only BRT.”
Transport Secretary James Macharia promised 150 high capacity buses would use the dedicated lane in two months.
At the time, Macharia said the government was in the process of procuring the buses and was in talks with matatu owners association to facilitate them to purchase more.
Months later in a follow up interview, the cabinet secretary made yet another promise that 30 high capacity buses had already been ordered and would be in operation soon.
The Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (Namata) made proposals for construction of BRT stations along the marked superhighway as well as park and ride facilities at Ruiru, Githurai and Kasarani.
None of all this has been done.
The last city residents heard of the project was in November when the Infrastructure Secretary Engineer Francis Gitau said that they are still on the planning stage.
“Planning is being done in several phases like the infrastructure plans is being undertaken by our road agencies, of course coordinated by Namata. When you talk about service plans and business plans these are being done by consultancy services through development partner assistance and we are in touch with them on a daily basis,” he said.
Kenyans have termed the red line as a white elephant project that was hurriedly implemented.
Communication consultant Gathara once questioned; “Dear Nairobians, How are the BRT red lines working out for you? How much did they cost by the way?”
Economist David Ndii stated; “Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is about dedicated infrastructure. The 21k Dar Phase 1 took 4 yrs to build, cost $180m. It has three trunk routes with 29 stations, 140 buses, serving 300k commuters. Lets see how drawing red lines will work. You never know.”