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Traffic jam headache in the city to persist in new year

Decongesting the city has been one of the biggest challenges the Nairobi County Govenment faced this year.

The problem is likely to persist in the new year since the plans and projects initiated by City Hall to improve traffic flow are yet to be implemented.

The blocking of some major roundabouts has worked partially to alleviate the problem.

Six roundabouts were to be demolished and replaced with signalised intercessions in a Sh400 million project that the county government had started implementing in April.

The whole idea was to ensure that all roundabouts in Nairobi are knocked down to allow the free flow of traffic.

ROUNDABOUTS

However, the plan worked on the busy Chiromo Road and Waiyaki Way following the barricading of Westlands and Old Nation House (Khoja) roundabouts.

This helped end the permanent traffic gridlock at Old Nation House roundabout at the junction of River Road and Tom Mboya Street.

The county government, which was implementing the project jointly with Transport Ministry and the Traffic Police had in the first week of April blocked motorists from turning right on Bunyala Road-Uhuru Highway roundabout and the Lusaka Road-Lang’ata roundabout.

This had improved traffic flow on Uhuru Highway and Mombasa Road.

However, when the drums barricading the two roundabouts were later removed and the Southern Bypass was reopened, traffic flow did not improve as expected.

City Hall has since remained silent on the removal of the drums.

LACK OF LAND

Transport executive Mohamed Abdullahi said the plan to decongest the city collapsed over lack of land to build additional lanes in areas with new intersections.

“The collapse of the project can be attributed to sabotage by police who want to continue controlling traffic on major highways,” said motorists and other stakeholders.

Nairobi Traffic Police boss Edward Mwamburi has, however, denied the claims. City Hall officials have also chosen to remain silent over the matter.

What complicates the traffic jams in Nairobi is the fleet of matatus that flock into the city centre.

Almost every parking bay or open space in the city centre east of Tom Mboya Street has been turned into a pick up or drop off point for Public Service Vehicles.

RELOCATING MATATUS

Roads that were designed as double lanes have been turned into single ones to create space for the matatus.

Relocating matatus from the Central Business District (CBD) is one of the recommendations by the Transport and Urban Decongestion Committee, which was set up by Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero in 2013.

The committee chaired by Prof Marion Mutugi handed over its report last October. However, City Hall is yet to fully implement it.

In September, Dr Kidero announced that key roads in the CBD would be converted into one-way streets in a bid to decongest the city.

This, the governor, would happen in the four months’ time starting from January.