At the weekly State House Summit yesterday, plans for the construction of a Sh38 billion overpass from Mlolongo suburb to Westlands and the imminent launch of a Sh15 billion light train between Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and the city centre were unveiled. These are key projects that will surely transform the lives of city commuters in a big way. And they couldn't have come at a better time.
Over time, Nairobi's population has grown exponentially, outstripping most of the social amenities including the road network. Rapid urbanisation estimated at a 4.3 per cent annual growth and a growing middle class keen to boot public transport and own a car, has compounded the situation.
Each day, Nairobi's road network creaks under the strain of up to 10 new motor vehicles (300 in a month).
Accounting for about two-thirds of the country's Sh41 trillion annual economic output, it is easy to understand why these figures will not come down any time soon.
A survey in 2011 ranked Nairobi's roads the world's fourth most congested. And it has become worse since then. The World Bank estimates that jams cost the city's economy at least Sh50 million every day (or Sh20 billion each year) in wasted man-hours and slowed productivity, besides the psychological strain on city commuters.
Needless to say, gridlock affects mostly those who contribute a huge portion of the country's GDP. It is comforting that the Government is making it easy for them to get about with their business.
Recently, Tanzania launched the Bus Rapid Transport in Dar es Salaam. Nothing stops Nairobi, East Africa's biggest city, from getting a similar (perhaps even better) investment to make moving around the city cheaper and more pleasant.
A reliable railway and a flowing road system will no doubt prompt motorists to leave their vehicles at home and thereby minimise environmental pollution. There will also be minimal loss of lives on the road as motorists opt for safer, faster, more efficient and cheaper means.