The government has unveiled plans to introduce an intelligent traffic management system on Nairobi’s roads.
The plan by Kenya Urban Roads Authority is among several others that the government is working on to ease road congestion in the city.
The Nairobi Metropolitan Transport Authority in 2019 estimated that traffic jams in the city cost the economy some Sh100 billion an year through wasted man hours, fuel consumed by vehicles idling in traffic and other such resources.
Projects such as the Nairobi Expressway, the bypass roads that form a ring around the capital and even the planned Bus Rapid Transit systems are all aimed at reducing traffic snarl-ups, are most welcome.
While these are welcome and should perhaps be sped up to bring the much-needed relief as soon as possible, the road authorities should also not ignore other causes of traffic jams.
Indiscipline by motorists plays a major role in building traffic jams. Nairobi might have the most intelligent traffic management systems, but these would have minimal impact if motorists continued behaving with impunity, disregarding the rules and being discourteous to fellow motorists.
While matatu drivers have in the past been cited for their notoriety, they are by no means the only unruly road users. Other road users, including private motorists, are equally to blame.
It is this indiscipline that has seen small mishaps on the road that take no more than a few minutes to resolve creating traffic jams that last hours as drivers rush to the opposite side of the road and in turn block oncoming vehicles.
Increased public education by road authorities as well as enforcing laws and ridding the roads of corrupt police officers could play a major role in decongesting the city.
Good infrastructure and disciplined motorists is what will bring the much-needed relief to Nairobi residents, who waste time, that could have been spent productively, and fuel in traffic jams for hours on end.