State makes fresh move to remove Thika Road gridlock

BRT lanes along Thika super highway. The new BRT buses are expected to improve Nairobi city's transport as well as reduce the vehicles congestion in the city. [Elvis Ogina.Standard]

The government is making another attempt to reduce traffic jams in Nairobi through implementation of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.

The Nairobi Metropolitan Authority (Namata) will implement the project on Thika Road, which was initially being handled by the Transport ministry.

Namata, established in February 2017 to decongest Nairobi, said the implementation will involve different agencies, but it will play the key role of procurement of contractors as well as issuing specifications for the system.

An attempt to implement a BRT system last year flopped, with the ministry only succeeding in marking a lane for the exclusive use of the high-capacity buses.

Namata yesterday started the search for a company that will design and construct the facilities that the system will run on. The job is expected to take one and a half years, with the initial phase expected to take eight months.

“The government intends to improve the infrastructure on Thika Superhighway to accommodate the Bus Rapid Transit system. The improvements will be undertaken as a design and build contract with a construction period of 18 months,” said the authority in a statement.

About Sh900 million will be invested in the infrastructure, which includes demarcation of lanes, bus stops and a depot. Another Sh800 million will be used for the acquisition of buses.

Namata Chief Executive Francis Gitau said selection of firms to supply the buses will also be done through an open tender.

Last year, the government had planned to acquire the buses through single sourcing from a South African firm. This kicked up a storm from different stakeholders who queried the cost of Sh6 billion as well as why the buses had to be imported while Tanzania had procured the same from Kenya.

“We will advertise for delivery of the buses, starting with 12-metre ones that can ferry between 80 and 100 people. As we open other routes, the investment will continue and we can look at buses with even higher capacity,” Eng Gitau said in an earlier interview.

“We had planned to procure buses through single sourcing because there was that declaration of emergency, but there is no justification for an emergency now. Then we were targeting buses that had already been constructed and the closest supplier was from South Africa.”

“This time round, we will go through a normal open tender where even the local manufacturers will be able to bid and award a tender that meets the threshold of public procurement laws.

This way we will not do things that people doubt. When you single source, everybody will think graft,” he added.

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