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Think smarter: Experts fault Sonko’s decongestion plan

Nairobians use a footbridge on December 03, 2018 after Governor Mike Sonko prohibited matatus from accessing the CBD.
Nairobians use a footbridge on December 03, 2018 after Governor Mike Sonko prohibited matatus from accessing the CBD.

Though ambitious, Governor Mike Sonko’s plan to decongest Nairobi by barring matatus from entering the CBD is faulty, experts say.

While keeping streets clear, the directive implemented Monday brought with it even greater congestion in the outskirts. The roads leading into the city, though devoid of public vehicles, were jam packed with private cars and pedestrians walking to their destinations.

DISCOURAGE PRIVATE CARS

A Ministry of Transport engineer said solutions to the traffic problem in Nairobi involve dealing with three things. First, private vehicles should be discouraged from entering the CBD, pedestrian walkways should be improved to encourage more people to walk to their destinations and thirdly, regulating the public transport system in the country.

He further noted that PSVs in the country are privately owned which is dangerous because they follow their own rules which should not be the case. There should be strict rules governing their operations in order to encourage more people to use them.

FEWER PARKING SLOTS

The engineer added that if there were fewer parking slots as well as fewer streets open to vehicles, the issue of congestion would be history in Nairobi.

A presentation by the Institute of Transport Development and Policy supports this. According to Christopher Kost, the Africa program director, the key to fewer vehicles driving into town is to make the CBD undesirable for private vehicles.

“If there are fewer parking spots and the parking fee is increased to let’s say, Sh1,000, then very few cars would come into the city,” Mr Kost said.

CROSS-CITY ROUTES

Mr Constant Cap, an urban planner, said that the plan to ban vehicles was not the best move. He suggested that cross-city routes be introduced as a way of ensuring most people can move easily about the city.

“There is lack of non-motorised transport infrastructure. You will find that there are some short walkable distances that are so dangerous to walk because there are no pedestrian walkways and no cycle paths for those who want to cycle. Like the stretch between Kempinski and the University of Nairobi is very short, but very dangerous because there’s no place to walk,” Mr Cap told the Nation.

He added that a standard framework for the matatu sector is needed, especially in the model of vehicles that are used. He said for example, 14-seater vans could be scrapped and replaced with high-capacity BRT buses.



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