KURA in yet another attempt to decongest Nairobi roads

Motorists enjoy the Nairobi Expressway at the junction of Kenyatta Avenue and Uhuru Highway, Nairobi as other motorists are stuck in traffic. May 19, 2022. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The Kenya Urban Roads Authority has started the implementation of the Intelligent Traffic Management System (ITS) in Nairobi, which is eventually expected to substantially reduce traffic jams as well as junctions across the city.

The authority said it has contracted a consortium led by Cheil Engineering Company of Korea to lay the ground for the project as well as oversee the implementation and later the operation of the project.

The ITS uses intelligent cameras, a control centre and traffic lights with variable timing, to clear snarl-ups and prevent them from escalating to heavy traffic.

Kura said it had piloted the system on two city roads and significantly reduced traffic jams.

Kura Director-General Silas Kinoti said Cheil Engineering had been awarded the Sh548 million contract to undertake the initial phase of the project that will entail evaluating bids for firms that will be bidding for the project, negotiation and supervision of detailed engineering design of the project.

The consortium will also construct the Traffic Management Centre (TMC) and support the preparation of operation and maintenance of the system.

Eng Kinoti said the second phase will entail enhancing junctions across the city as well as installation of smart systems on Nairobi roads.

“The project aims at establishing an integrated system as part of the smart city transport management for Nairobi," he said in a statement, adding that the project is scheduled to commence later this year.

"Phase Two of the project will involve junction improvement and installation of ITS facilities for the 81 intersections.” 

Kura has successfully piloted the ITS 10 junctions along Western Ring Road and Ngong Road. This, it said, has greatly reduced traffic snarl-ups on the two roads.

“The model has proved very effective in managing traffic hence removing the necessity of traffic police at road intersections,” Eng Kinoti said.

Such a system would come as a huge relief for many motorists in Nairobi, who waste time that could have been spent on productive work and fuel waiting in traffic jams for hours on end.

A past report by the Nairobi Metropolitan Transport Authority (Namata) estimated that traffic jams in the city cost the economy Sh100 billion a year through wasted man-hours, fuel consumed by vehicles idling in traffic and other such resources.

Traffic jams also have a toll on human health as well as the environment.

At the same time, Kura has moved to assert its ownership of two of its prime parcels of land located next to the City Cabanas on Mombasa Road, saying the plots are not for sale.

This comes as unscrupulous land sellers using forged documents tried to sell the land to unsuspecting Kenyans.

In a notice signed by the director-general, the road agency cautioned the public against falling victim to fraudsters who are using forged documents for the land.

The pieces of land were acquired eight years ago for road expansion.

“While the land was acquired from Strategic Industries in 2014 for the sole purpose of completing the construction of the City Cabanas interchange, it has come to our attention that various individuals and entities are fraudulently asserting ownership and, or, attempting unlawfully to claim ownership of the said land," the notice said. 

"Kura advises members of the public not to make payments to or engage with any such entities, their agents or proxies."