Mercy Mwai @wangumarci
The government has moved to reduce traffic snarl-up on Thika Superhighway after it announced that the road will have a dedicated lane for public service vehicles.
This is in line with the government’s plan for a Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS) to ease traffic flow on major roads in the city.
Transport Cabinet secretary James Macharia told the Kimani Wamatangi-led Senate Committee on Transport that apart from the Bus Rapid Transport buses, ambulances and vehicles belonging to visiting Heads of State will use the dedicated lane to avoid getting caught up in the city’s traffic endless snarl-ups.
The other roads targeted include Lang’ata Road, Mombasa Road, Jogoo Road, Juja Road and Waiyaki Way. “We have identified six corridors where we are implementing this, starting with Thika road, where we are today marking out the express lane.
By evening I will have gazetted the rules, and as soon as tomorrow, anyone contravening the use of the lanes will be subjected to a fine,” he said: The government plans to introduce high-capacity buses of up to 100 passengers, Macharia added.
“Plans are at an advanced stage and the first batch of about 50 buses should be deployed in the next four weeks.”
Accompanied by Urban Planning Principal Secretary Charles Mwaura, Macharia said apart from the National Youth Service (NYS) buses, the private sector is expected to bring in another 100 buses within three months.
“These buses from the private sector will complement the already existing ones. We are discussing with National Treasury on duty waivers to fast track this initiative,” he said.
This came as Matatu Owners Association opposed the move to reintroduce the NYS shuttles on some city routes saying it will undercut the private players in the industry.
Public Service and Youth Cabinet secretary Margaret Kobia on Wednesday told the same committee that the government plans to introduce 50 more NYS buses on the capital city’s routes and subsidise fares further, despite continued opposition from matatu owners.
The plans for the special lanes have been on the cards since Mutula Kilonzo was Minister for Nairobi Metropolitan Development in 2008.
At the same time, Macharia disclosed that the government is planning to relocate the Mai Mahiu-Narok highway because the current one passes on the Rift Valley fault line. He said the government is awaiting a comprehensive report from the geology department to make the final decision.