Is this a Highway Robbery or Not?
In the roads race Kenya is competing with Lagos and Cairo because of the crazily increasing number of cars on the roads. But Nairobi’s growing car craze is almost like what China was 20 years ago and this has added to increase pollution issues. The air is definitely carrying respiratory disease and cancer causing elements, unless something is done quickly. If the rate of cars has quadrupled in the last 25 years then you can imagine the load on the roads and health of the people.
In order to cope with the huge volumes of cars and severe congestions in Nairobi, the “Nairobi Bypasses” plan was unveiled when the Nairobi Southern Bypass construction was launched in 2012.
These Bypasses include:
Northern Bypass – linking Limuru Road to Thika Road
Eastern Bypass – linking Mombasa Road to Ruiru-Kiambu road near Kamiti prison
Southern Bypass – run from Kikuyu to Mombasa Road via Ngong Road and Lang’ata
Huge funding was required and it has been know that with the Government taking up an Annuity programme, they have been able to complete over 10,000km of small roads and highways.
What this Annuity programme means is “…the consultants and contractors will design and construct the roads while financing is done by bankers with guarantees from the government. The model will increase business between commercial banks, contractors and the government. Insurance companies will insure the works while performance guarantees will be provided by the banks as usual.”
Primary funding has come from China and while it costs $500,000 per day lost in productivity for Nairobi because of traffic jams, have these bypasses been effective?
The tolling system policy is being designed and according Director General of KENHA Peter Mundinia majority are willing to pay a reasonable fees for these toll stations.
The expected roads to be effected include the 500km Nairobi-Mombasa, Nairobi-Nakuru highway, Thika Superhighway and 28.6km Southern by-pass road.
Meanwhile under this new arrangement the Mombasa-Nairobi Highway will have two toll stations, in Mariakani and at the Machakos turn off while the Nairobi-Nakuru Highway will have three toll stations, at Rironi (Limuru), Naivasha and Lanet.
The entire project is being studied and consulted so that it can roll out by end of 2017 and be in place for about 30 years.
Toll stations do help in congestions because those for have frequent trips outside of the city will be subjected to daily or weekly budgets to include in their transport costs. However a few key things are important if this platform is meant to succeed:
- Transparent rates on the class of vehicle, almost like the way you pay parking per hour, it is fair.
- Toll stations must not be used to harass drivers for petty traffic offences
- If there is a search element of vehicle and driver identity and security let it be done in a swift and sophisticated manner.
- Let there be no bypassing of the toll station and thus overlapping on the roads because vehicles are popping out of nowhere.
- Since the income earned will be relatively high, let it be used for highway maintenance, including patrolling, security and medical emergencies.
The main problem is city travel should be completely reliant on public transport and this does not mean the dangerous Matatus. They have the reliable system of transport and it is affordable but they are out dated and need to be replaced with a metro and sophisticated bus system.
Car ownership remains a status symbol in Kenya, but at least drivers should be well licensed and taught, plus of course Traffic Police need to stop focusing on filling pockets and speaking to Government on policy and infrastructure issues to improve our traffic flow and not increase blockages where they benefit.
The need is for transparency and determination otherwise our forthcoming generations will die of more road accidents, respiratory disease, cancers and never build the country well.