Mombasa residents yesterday woke up to chaotic scenes after the county government began rerouting vehicles.
Motorists and passengers protested at the decision by Governor Hassan Joho’s team to change the flow of traffic on various roads in a bid to end traffic jams witnessed during peak hours.
They complained that the one-way traffic flow consumed more time and fuel, and made it difficult to drop passengers as some of the vehicles drove on the right-hand lane.
Vehicles going to the island from the North Coast through Nyali bridge were directed to Sheikh Abdulla Farsi Road, Coast General Hospital junction and Marikiti Barclays roundabout and those from General Post Office (GPO) were rerouted to the Jomo Kenyatta Road, Saba Saba junction, Ronald Ngala and the Nyali bridge.
A matatu driver on the Mtwapa-GPO route Abdulrazak Salmin said he encountered a heavy traffic jam at Bombolulu before reaching the Nyali bridge because of the change of traffic flow.
“We woke up to a big shock after we were informed there was a change of routes. There was a traffic snarl-up from Bombolulu to the Nyali bridge early in the morning.
“Instead of making three trips in the morning we managed only two and this may force us to increase fare,” he said. A tuk tuk driver Moses Mutunga said it was difficult to rush patients to the Coast General Hospital from Likoni ferry as they were forced to go to Saba Saba instead of the shorter route through Marikiti and Bondeni.
“We did not have prior information about this arrangement. The county government should not unilaterally introduce changes that adversely affect road users,” he said.
But county Transport CEC Taufiq Balala termed the first day a success.
“There are many government agencies managing roads but the county government has the responsibility to manage traffic flow and we have to bite the bullet. We have to make hard decisions,” said Balala.
He said the county government has been consulting other stakeholders in the last two years.
Balala said similar protests were witnessed when the county government implemented the “happy hour” plan when vehicles were directed in one direction at a time during peak hours through the Nyali bridge.
He, however, admitted there were hiccups especially in dropping passengers at areas where there are no designated stages while matatus are driving on right hand side.