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Big brother watching: New CCTV plan set to nab offenders, ease city traffic

By Everlyne Kwamboka | August 22nd 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Pedestrian pathways and beautification along Kenyatta Avenue in Nairobi. The new pathways are expected to transform Nairobi into a modern city with less traffic in the CBD. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure is planning new measures to ease traffic congestion in Nairobi County.

The measures are also expected to reduce accidents, air pollution and eliminate fraud using intelligent video surveillance cameras to be installed at 300 major junctions. 

In the plan, the cameras are to automatically detect and record motorists’ behaviour on the road, capture the car and driver’s picture, offence committed, place and time of committing the offence, including the car registration number.

This information is then relayed to two command centres to be stationed at the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura) and Mombasa Road. The centres will be used to send messages to the offenders’ mobile phones registered on the Transport Integrated Management System (TIMS).

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The Smart Card Driver Licence will assist with the alignment between vehicle registration, driver’s licence and traffic violations.

A team of police, traffic engineers, system specialists and county traffic controllers would be housed at the centres to monitor surveillance cameras 24 hours a day.

In the proposed fines, Public Service Vehicle (PSV) drivers who have a habit of driving on or through pavements or pedestrian walkways should be prepared to pay Sh5,000, those reversing in areas they are not supposed to (Sh3,000), failure to stop when the traffic light turns red (Sh3,000) and speed violation (between Sh500 and Sh10,000).

Other offences include yellow line occupation, parking violation, wrong lane change and illegal turn.

Pedestrians walking in or crossing a roadway that has traffic other than at suitable crossing point, or otherwise disregard traffic rules should also be prepared to pay fines.

The government expects to collect from one camera fines worth more than Sh3 billion per year from the Sh30 billion ITS project involving installation of the cameras and improving the road junctions’ geometry and implementation of Bus Rapid Transit Line Five.

According to the concept note prepared by Kura and seen by Saturday Standard, the revenue collected is expected to be used in operating and maintaining the gadgets.

Infrastructure Principal Secretary Paul Maringa told the Senate Committee on National Cohesion that the ITS project, which is divided into three phases, will cater for People with disabilities (PWDs) by ensuring that sensors are also installed along with the cameras. He said the system will control movement of vehicles thus being of great assistance to persons living with disabilities who currently depend on other people to cross roads, especially during peak hours.

In the first phase, the PS said the project will cater for 25 junctions and the second one 75, all of which are to be worked on by a Korean company in partnership with the National Government. 

The project’s first two phases is to be funded as a loan from the Korean government in a deal signed in December 2018. This is to be disbursed by the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) through Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM).

The interest rate for the two phases is at 0.1 per cent and is to be paid for a period of 40 years with a grace period of 10 years.

The PS said they are already done with the details on funding the first phase and negotiations between the National Treasury and KEXIM completed, the outcome of which the National Treasury has done a formal loan request to the Korean government.

The Saturday Standard established that a Chinese company is in talks with the government to fund 125 junctions at a cost of Sh20 billion. It is currently being piloted on seven road junctions with high traffic congestion on Nairobi Western Ring Road, Kilimani area. The first phase includes installation of modern traffic signalisation systems, video surveillance and traffic counters.

“The system collects 24-hour real time traffic data including turning movements and analysis, which is used in continuous improvement of the system, traffic analysis and forecasting for future planning and management of our roads,” the PS added.

Phase two involves improvement of geometry and installation of ITS facilities for the 75 junctions.

ITS that has components on e-enforcement measures such as violation of traffic lights and speed limit is expected to save the country from losing over Sh50 million daily in traffic jams, an amount that results to Sh18.25 billion loss annually.

It would also inform motorists on available parking spots and route guidance when there are issues such as accidents and flooded roads during rainy season.

Matatu Owners Association Chairman Simon Kimutai said the system was long overdue because of the fuel and the time motorists spend on traffic jams in Nairobi.

“We welcome the system if it can remove policemen from our roads for drivers to carry their own cross. It will also end the issue of PSV drivers being accused of bribing police officers from time to time,” said Kimutai.

Chief Administrative Secretary Chris Obure said the ITS project was in line with the government policy that requires road, transport and ICT to cater for PWDs by providing assistive devices.

Ministry of Transport Nairobi Kenya Urban Roads Authority Saturday Standard
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