By Barbara Atieno
Road accidents, traffic snarl-ups and pollution are some of the problems Kenyans experience in the capital city, Nairobi. Pollution here is not only smoke emission but also noise pollution such as car hoots, engine ignitions, loud music, touts hawking for passengers among others.
According to Kwame Owino, CEO, Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), studies shows that a big number of vehicles that cause traffic snarl -up are private cars. However, public service vehicles (PSV) such as matatus, buses, motor cycles, bicycle and tuktuks are also to blame.
Owino regretted that Kenya loses over Ksh.50 million daily in traffic jams. An amount that results to 18.25 billion loss annually.
“This traffic congestion is usually experienced mostly in the morning and evening hours when people are headed to and from their respective work stations. Additionally, school buses are also caught in these menus while ferrying learners,” Owino observed.
On the other hand, despite PSV having definite parking lots, terminus and bus stops, motorists do ignore it and stop or pack anywhere on the road.
Motorists flout traffic rules attributing to the congestion madness in the city. Lack of proper traffic lights to guide the motorists is another shortcoming.
PSVs are also responsible for playing loud music which is disadvantageous to some of the customers who have boarded the vehicle. In addition, they have been accused of playing dirty films in the vehicles not recommended for children.
The vehicles that have screens in them are advised to play decent items which favor people of all ages. Sometime back the screens were scrapped of because the matatu operators were not adhering to the rules.
County Government of Nairobi needs to install more traffic lights to control traffic flow. Police officers must be well equipped with proper attires for harsh weather to render their services promptly.
All road users should consider traffic rules to minimize accidents. For instance, pedestrians should stick to fly-overs, zebra crossings and adhere to traffic alight while crossing road.
According to Owino a new report by the IEA, says that the introduction of the Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS) holds key to managing traffic especially in Nairobi.
The IEA further suggests a raft of measures among them a congestion charge that will discourage people from using their private cars.
“Congestion charges will discourage everyone from using their car on a daily basis meaning we will have less cars on the roads and people will take up more of public transport,” said Owino.
Motorists however, insist that the solution could also lie in a reliable and efficient public transport system.
“You cannot tell someone that they should use public means of transport whilst there are none that cater to them in that particular route,” argues Kenya Motorist Association’s Peter Murima.
However, even with the huge number of personal vehicles being registered, the bulk of the blame sits with the PSV operators, a blame that shifts to the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA).
“The vehicles that are on the roads are way too many than the roads can support, this is the main issue,” said Mary Kiarie, Deputy Officer in Charge Traffic Nairobi.
“The problem is with the NTSA where they register more vehicles than the ones that are required in the transport sector,” said Simon Kimutai, the chairman Matatu Owners Association (MOA).
Kimutai blamed NTSA and challenged them to implement government policy on public transport. Again he reminded NTSA for not adhering ban on importing over eight year old vehicles into the country.
As the industry players continue to look for ways of ridding the city from traffic snarl-ups, Kenyans continue to lose millions to this menace daily and inhaling poisoned air.
The audience called upon government to move with speed and implement every single suggestion offered earlier instead of procrastinating.