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Revolution of transport services in Nairobi metropolis in 2020

Non-motorised transport (NMT), commuter trains and commuter rail buses are some of the transformations that characterised Nairobi’s transport sector in 2020.

The revolution saw the launch of a number of services in Nairobi metropolis that changed the architecture of commuting in the capital city.

With the establishment of the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) in March, the Mohammed Badi-led office began implementing non-motorised transport corridors in the city centre.

This saw Kenyatta Avenue, Wabera and Muindi Mbingu Streets get a facelift with pedestrian and cycle paths constructed in the three streets.

The development is aimed at providing safe walking and cycling space for Nairobi residents who would want to walk or cycle in and out of Nairobi central business district (CBD).

“The project is aimed at improving walking spaces and encouraging city residents to start using bicycles since this mode of transport is safe, efficient and economical,” said NMS Transport, Roads and Public Works director Engineer Michael Ochieng.

The national government outfit also embarked on recarpeting and tarmacking of roads within the city centre.

On the part of revolution in the commuter rail services, the national government embarked on major renovations of the Nairobi Commuter Rail Service (NCRS) which is part of Nairobi Metropolitan Transport Master Plan aimed at integrating rail transport with other modes of transport road and air transport.

The project saw the modernisation and expansion of under-utilised railway transport infrastructure facilities within Nairobi to attract passenger traffic from the roads by providing passengers with safe, reliable and affordable rail transport services in and around the city.

The net effect being reduction of congestion in the roads by creating an efficient and affordable mass rapid transit transport system for the city.

The first part of the ambitious project saw major renovations of the Nairobi Central Station, which kicked off in July, which saw the central station get a new face with designated boarding points set up for various trains to facilitate safe movement of passengers within the station.

Pillars for the Nairobi Expressway project are pictured near Nextgen Mall during Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia tour on December 11, 2020. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE

Thereafter, 11 Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) and five coaches would arrive to be introduced in different rail routes within the city to provide commuter rail services.

The new stations include Ruiru, Syokimau, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), Kikuyu and Embakasi Village.

This has seen the construction of 26 new modern passenger handling stations in Syokimau, Makadara and Imara Daima railway stations.

President Uhuru Kenyatta would in November launch the revamped city rail service incorporating the new 11 DMUs and Commuter Rail Buses.

“We have invested in rehabilitation of the Nairobi Railway station as well as access roads with additional stations to be constructed and will serve an estimated 40,000 passengers a day,” said Mr Kenyatta, adding that the railway transport will be extended to JKIA in a year’s time.

The plan is to see a rail track extended to the airport from Syokimau Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) station to provide air travellers with an alternative mode of transport to and from JKIA to avoid the traffic mess synonymous with Mombasa Road.

The new look pedestrian walkway on the corner of Kimathi Street and Kenyatta Avenue by the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS). PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU

In December, Kenya Railways commissioned the JKIA-city centre railway link entailing an express service targeted at enabling air travellers to avoid traffic snarl-up on Mombasa Road.

The service sees passengers ride on the new DMUs from the city centre up to Embakasi Village station before being picked up by commuter rail buses and ferried to JKIA through the Airport South Road, which has been dedicated to the commuter rail buses.

The next stop for the development is to extend the commuter rail services to Thika, Limuru, and Lukenya in the second phase and then to Ongata Rongai, Kiserian, Ngong, Kiambu, Ruai and Kangemi in the third phase.

Currently, NMS is in the process of relocating public service vehicles (PSVs) from the city centre to termini in the outskirts of the capital city.

According to the plan, matatus plying Ngong and Lang’ata Roads will terminate their journey at the Green Park Bus terminus, popularly known as Railways Club.

Long distance PSVs from Mt Kenya and those from the Thika Superhighway – that have been terminating at Tea room, Accra Road – to drop and pick passengers at Desai and Park Road termini in Ngara.

On the other hand, Muthurwa terminus is expected to remain to serve PSVs from Jogoo and Lusaka Roads.

PSVs from Mombasa Road will terminate at another new terminus to be constructed at the junction of Bunyala and Workshop Road while matatus using the Waiyaki Way, Uhuru Highway, Kipande and Limuru roads will end their journey at the Fig Tree terminus in Ngara.