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Traffic mess on Mombasa Road could be avoided

By Editorial | August 27th 2021

The motorists should also be put into the equation and given alternatives. [Courtesy]

The traffic nightmare experienced by road users on Mombasa Road in the last few days is unprecedented. The ongoing construction of the Nairobi Expressway from Mlolongo to Westlands is expected to ease movement in a few months’ time.

It will also be a game-changer in Kenya’s transport network. Huge economic benefits will be accrued from the 30km stretch estimated to cost about Sh64 billion.

However, it smacks of disdain for Kenyan motorists using the gateway from Mombasa to Nairobi when the contractor does little to give alternative routes, in the meantime.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia has on several occasions rightfully pleaded with Kenyans for patience and promised to speed up works on the Expressway. He has also asked the contractor to always be mindful of the motorists using Mombasa Road by creating clear pathways and diversions.

Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case. On Thursday, motorists spent the night on the road in one of the worst traffic snarl-ups in the city’s modern history. A section near Mlolongo had been closed and just a single lane was serving motorists on a road used by hundreds of heavy trucks and thousands of public and private vehicles daily. This is unacceptable in a country trying to achieve middle-income status in less than a decade.

While constructing a road or putting up infrastructure anywhere in the world, persons to be affected directly are given utmost consideration. The contractor and authorities must make every provision possible to reduce the discomfort and inconveniencies. That is why land and business owners displaced by such developments are compensated.

The motorists should also be put into the equation and given alternatives. In the case of Mombasa Road, why couldn’t the contractor spare two lanes on various sections while going about the works? Closing the highway and leaving narrow paths on some sections is the main cause of the traffic mess.

The government could also have explored ways of diverting traffic to the southern by-pass and other nearby roads. Without creative planning, the resultant congestion will only show that the welfare of Kenyan motorists is not being considered. This leaves road users to their own devices, which often are disastrous and cause more congestion.

The traffic police department must also step up their game and devise ways of clearing the gridlock. They can use available technology to monitor motorists and clear possible pile-ups along the highway. They should not just rely on traditional methods. That said, the traffic police must learn lessons from the developed word on managing movement of goods and people. This is because the population is growing and urbanisation won’t relent soon.

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