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How BRT will shorten travel from Dandora to Kenyatta National Hospital

A BRT station along Thika Road. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

It will take you only 40 minutes to commute between Dandora and Kenyatta National Hospital from current two hours if implementation of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system is successful.

The government plans to first introduce the system between the highly populated residential area in Nairobi’s Eastlands and the referral hospital in Nairobi’s Upper Hill area.

The Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (Namata) has sought environmental approvals as it prepares to build the BRT line along the route that was gazetted as a BRT corridor in 2019.

Construction is set to start at the end of this year while operations are to launch in 2025.

The 12-kilometre line is expected to significantly improve transport between Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD) and Dandora, as well as many parts of the city’s Eastlands area.

These are densely populated areas but the public transport system has experienced little or no investments through the years.

Once the line is operational, the commute time between KNH and Dandora is expected to reduce to a maximum 38 minutes. 

“Total travel time from (KNH) to Dandora will be between 34 and 38 minutes, depending on type of service,” said Namata in submissions to the National Environment Management Authority (Nema).

Namata has lodged an environmental impact assessment with Nema seeking approvals to start building the BRT corridor.

Moving between KNH and Dandora can currently take two hours because of heavy traffic and the fact that commuters have to use two PSVs, from KNH to CBD and from CBD to Dandora.

“It (BRT Core Line Three) starts from Kenyatta Hospital, progresses down Haile Selassie Avenue to the Central Business District, continues on Race Course Road to Ring Road Ngara, to Juja Road and then onto the end at Dandora,” said Namata.

The line – dubbed BRT Core Line Three – has been projected to cost €299 million (Sh37.6 billion). The European Investment Bank (EIB) – which intends to take up the role of a lead financier, is expected to finance the line to the cost of €145 million (Sh18.24 billion).

EIB said the BRT buses will be “zero-emission electric buses”.

“Clean BRT Line 3 will provide a substantial improvement to the current public transport system of the congested capital of Kenya by offering a green solution to the challenges of an efficient bus network,” said EIB in a January 2022 brief on the project.

Use of electric buses is expected to be the case for all BRT lines, with Namata having set the same standards for BRT Line Two on Thika Road, where it will also allow biodiesel buses but lock out vehicles that run on fossil fuels such as diesel.

The Ministry of Transport expects to break ground this year, with construction projected to take about three years.

“The construction for Line Three will start by end of this year…we have gotten funding from a consortium of EU banks,” said Urban Development and Housing Principal Secretary Charles Hinga at a recent briefing on the BRT system.

The BRT Line Three will offer some relief for many Nairobi residents who have to contend with chaotic public commute everyday as well as the heavy traffic on Juja Road and other roads along the route.

The 110 buses that will be deployed on the line will enable the operator to have circulation of buses every 90 seconds, especially during rush hour.

BRT Line Three is expected to be the second route where a BRT system has been deployed with Line Two on Thika Road set to be the first to start operations mid this year.

Line Two, to be built in phases, will stretch all the way from Kenol in Muranga County to Ongata Rongai in Kajiado County. It will share facilities with Line Three on Haile Selassie Avenue.