[Kenya] JICA, government in partnership to decongest Nairobi and enhance urban transport
Kenya Urban Roads Authority General Manager Daniel Muchiri has told CNN’s Building Bridges programme of the huge financial losses Kenya’s capital is experiencing as traffic jams grind the city to a halt.
“If you look at Nairobi, right now, we are losing about 1 billion US dollars every year. And people going to work, they spend about 4 hours in a day, two in the morning and two in the evening in traffic jam.”
The programme explores how one solution would be to improve Nairobi’s roads, while reducing pollution and accidents. For 15 years, Japan has partnered with Kenya to do just that.
Keiko Sano, chief representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency in Kenya, says: “Solving this traffic jam helps to save costs and time which are key challenges to business in Africa.” She goes on to explain how improving traffic flow will help attract investors to cities like Nairobi, but the quality of the roadworks shouldn't be jeopardized: “Sometimes the urgency in the construction of the roads is more emphasized than the quality [of] delivery. But after the construction of the road, the road should continue in good and safe condition for the entirety of the project.”
In 2004, the agency surveyed Nairobi’s urban traffic network and identified roads that are a priority to improve. Ngong Road, one of Kenya’s busiest routes, is an eight kilometer stretch which connects a heavily populated area to the city's central business district. A 40 million dollar project is converting it into a divided highway with double the lanes.
Daniel Muchiri, General Manager, Kenya Urban Roads Authority explains the advantages of the road improvement: “The road is going to benefit, I would say, even the whole economy of Nairobi… There will be less congestion on the road, which means people will use less hours to go to town, to work, the pollution will be reduced and also travel time will be less, and safety will be enhanced.”
The benefits of the new road are also described by Evans Kanyi, a Matatu driver who will see financial rewards from the reduction in traffic: “It's going to be a great help to my hustle and bustle everyday because I really need short time for travel, that way I make more money. So, it's going to be of good help to my life.”
Kanyi thinks he could increase his earnings from 135 dollars to 200 dollars a day once Ngong Road is expanded. He continues about how the new road will improve life in the city: “You can sit in traffic for an hour. For a stretch of less than 3 km. So, with this dual carriage road, it's going to make it so much easier for us to get to do our daily basic needs.”