By Opija Raduk

The National and Nairobi County governments have been carrying out a trial and error exercise aimed at attaining free traffic flow in the city without major success, experts said during a public forum in Nairobi on the city’s traffic challenge.

The panel at the forum organized by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA)-Kenya identified some of the efforts such as closing of some roundabouts and abolishing right turns at minor junctions as ineffective. Other points of concern included: each roundabout having at least three sets of lights functioning without a coordinated system, the introduction of terminus outside the city center and most recently car-free days.

“70 percent of Nairobians use the public transport and it should not be condemned. We should look for better ways of improving the public transport system that many residents of Nairobi depend on. In Nairobi we don’t have professionals who plan the public transport systems as compared to countries like South Africa where professionals do the planning,” said Simon Kimutai, chairman of the Matatu Owners Association of Kenya.

“Let us improve the conditions of the public transport system so that it is comfortable for use by everyone. One bus can remove close to 50 personal cars from the roads,” he added.

Mary Kiarie, deputy officer commanding police division (OCPD), Traffic Nairobi County said that the poor planning at the roundabouts also contribute to traffic congestion. She said poor design of roads is a major contributor to the congestion on the roads.

“Kenya as a nation needs to oversee the coordination of land use, transport infrastructure and service planning to ensure the provision of adequate and well-structured road space,” said Chrispine Oduor, programme officer at IEA-Kenya.

Speaking during the same event, Kwame Owino, chief executive officer at IEA-Kenya said that public service vehicles would be more efficient at reducing traffic congestion than the personal vehicles that have designated parking spots in city streets.

“A hard-nosed, facts-based policy aimed at reducing the average times spent in traffic by commuters would show that public service vehicles are a superior option to private automobile,” added Kwame.

“The government will implement a bus rapid transit (BRT) system in Nairobi as planned, we will also shift passengers and freight from road to rail. This will ensure that the city roads are decongested,” said Martin Eshiwani, head of transport services at the Ministry of Transport.