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Necessary evil that is roundabouts on city roads

Nairobi is arguably the busiest towns in the country and traffic jams are common. Most roundabouts do little to enhance free flow of vehicles for which they were designed, and can best be termed a necessary evil.

People crossing the road instead of using the foot bridges, have been another major contributor to jams.

Some roundabouts easily increase the chances of accidents, depending on the interests they hold for the public. For example, the Haile Selassie roundabout has a toilet block erected on it, making it a crossing blind spot. Potential users have to cross the road to access the toilet and back.

Drivers’ visibility is blocked. Motorists still have to avoid running over pedestrians rushing to and from the toilet.

But the users want the toilet there. One of them, Andrew Mwangi, said they did not want it demolished or relocated, arguing it was strategically placed and served many people.

But driver Richard Waweru said: “A roundabout should always be clear for you to see if another car is approaching and be able to take instructions from a traffic officer. This toilet has automatically turned this roundabout into a blind spot”.

The Doonholm roundabout has a footpath right in the middle of it and pedestrians have to be careful before getting into and leaving the roundabout from the other end.

Accidents are most likely in the early mornings and late evenings when human traffic walking to their places of work or back is high, explained Esther Ngugi.

At the Roysambu roundabout, there is an electricity pole erected in the road and those driving around have to be careful lest they hit the post and cause an accident. Vehicles can pass it on either side.

County executive for planning, Mr Tom Odongo, however, said they were aware of the Haile Selassie round-about toilet and given the danger it posed to the public, the area was being redesigned.

“We are also talking with Kenya Power officers to have the electricity post erected on the road near Roysambu roundabout removed,” added Mr Odongo.

He, however, said the public was to blame, especially in Donholm, where they have turned the roundabout into a through pass.