Nairobi traffic problem


That Nairobi as a city has a traffic congestion problem at almost any time of day and sometimes even at night on some roads is not in doubt. That the clever people, and I use clever loosely, trying to solve it are not very clever is also not in doubt.

A while back, these clever people decided they would magically solve the problem by raising parking fees while not providing alternatives to these people who drive. Raising parking fees would work where other alternatives are reliable and efficient, something Nairobi doesn’t have.

Further evidence that the city fathers are clever, they announced an imposition of two car free days that was to begin last Friday. Well, it didn’t start as I knew it wouldn’t. This is why this pilot was bound to fail from the word go.

They said

Afterwards, private motorists starting February 1, will be required to keep their private vehicles at bay on Wednesday and Saturdays and instead use public service vehicles in a historic piloting phase that is geared at de-congesting the CBD but one that has been met by opposition and equal measure of support.

and here is where the problem starts. Do they keep them at bay at home or can drive them and just don’t get into the CBD. Instead of reducing traffic as these clever people anticipate, there will be chaos. To solve traffic congestion requires several measures among them includes terminal buildings where people can park their cars. Much of the traffic in the CBD is as a result of people trying to find parking bays.

As it is, using public transport (which are actually private taxis) is inefficient and expensive. Any journey through Nairobi requires at least the use of two matatus as non loop around the city. There are areas that are not served at all by public transport forcing residents to walk long distances just to catch a bus, that one never knows what time they will come, how much fare you will pay and whether they nyongoa before they get to the terminal.

In the article I have linked to, the clever city fathers say only cyclists, police vehicles and other emergency vehicles will be allowed on specific roads. Now my friends, this is really stupid. There are no cycling lanes. The roads will not be car free, just the CBD. So does one carry their bikes and only cycle in those specific streets or how did they see this happening?

Anyway, these clever people were elected by Nairobians and as such, kila mtu apambane na hali yake.

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

52 thoughts on “Nairobi traffic problem

  1. That sounds like an absolute madhouse! I’m from a small city where rush hour is about 10 minutes. We have parking almost everywhere, at no charge.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Peter says:

    A sad reality in much of the world as the populations grows and the car fleet grows even quicker.

    I live in a relatively small city, around 200,000 people but even here I see politicians failing to grasp the issue and proposing nonsense solutions similar to what you are experiencing.

    I like to use the London sewage system from the mid 19th century as an example of how politicians operate:
    – stage 1: the problem was clear the sewage system was not coping:
    – stage 2: undertake an investigation to decide what to do;
    – stage 3: receive the investigation report, and then reject because the solution is too expensive and takes too long:
    – stage 4: propose some mickey mouse solutions, which look like you are doing something:
    – stage 5: a very hot summer makes the city putrid and even the politicians realise that the mickey mouse solutions are not the answer:
    – Stage 6: actually implement what was recommended from stage 2.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. john zande says:

    One word to solve everything: Blimps.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. One word answer: Rickshaws.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. renudepride says:

    Sadly, this is *NOT* just Nairobi, my Kenyan brother, but a dilemma everywhere – the joys of life in the 21st century! Naked hugs!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. NeuroNotes says:

    Good gobs of goose manure.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. basenjibrian says:

    There is NOT an answer, folks. Our Autosexuality cannot easily be cured. It may be “unfair” to raise fees etc. etc., but it is also “unfair” for the large percentage of Kenyans who are not addicted to moving themselves with three tons of polluting metal to pay the taxes for the massive road construction projects that would be required-and those projects always just generate more traffic anyway (induced demand is real) because once the new freeway is built, I can now move to a nicer and bigger house in a suburb even father away from my job!!!!! At least, that is the American reality.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. nannus says:

    People did without cars in the old days. The trick is to have all the things you need in walking distance. The invention of cars created the possibility to have things you need far apart. Small local shops where replaced by distant big mall, for example. We will have to return to small local neighborhoods again where most of the things you need (including your job) can be reached on foot or by bike. Cars are unnecessary. They have been unnecessary for most of human history and will become unnecessary again.
    When I lived in the city of Hamburg, I lived in an area where I could walk for shopping. Schools and Kindergardens where between one and three bus stops away. I could go to my workplace on bike and use public transport on days with bad weather. In the end, we sold our car because it was standing around most of the time. This is possible and it is much cheaper than everybody having a car.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Barry says:

    I’ve got the perfect solution for you: pilotless electric air taxis 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • makagutu says:

      where will everyone park?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Barry says:

        They’re taxis. They’ll be in more or less constant use except while being recharged. It’s not like they’ll need to be parked for hours on end while you’re at work or shopping. And being able to maneuver in 3 dimensions should significantly reduce traffic congestion.

        Liked by 1 person

        • makagutu says:

          This would have a chance of working

          Liked by 2 people

          • Barry says:

            I might be wrong, but I suspect the algorithms necessary to avoid airborne collisions will be less complex than those required for terrestrial driverless vehicles.

            Liked by 1 person

          • makagutu says:

            My worry is with many of them in the air, and low altitude, such collisions might actually be frequent. It may not be easy to stack them up efficiently and safely

            Liked by 2 people

          • Barry says:

            The problem as I see it is that at ground level, the algorithms need to be able to distinguish between moving and fixed objects which can be in very close proximity to the vehicle. At several hundred to more than a thousand metres in the air, there are much fewer object, fixed or moving, and apart from designated landing zones, minimum spacing could be set to a hundred or more metres apart in all directions. I think if I could choose between travelling in a driverless vehicle at ground level or at a thousand metres, I’d choose the latter.

            Liked by 1 person

          • makagutu says:

            I’d choose the latter too. It definitely has much better views

            Liked by 2 people

        • basenjibrian says:

          You know…that is what the promoters of Lyft and Uber said, too. What you get in dense city cores is endless platoons of Uber drivers INCREASING city traffic. I suppose three dimensional travel will be better, but I envision a continuous rain of aircar (and body) parts as the inevitable midair collisions occur.

          Liked by 2 people

          • makagutu says:

            Indeed, having more taxis in the city doesn’t solve the problem.

            Liked by 2 people

          • Barry says:

            NZ cities are not as densely packed as they are in other parts of the world. The city of Auckland covers 1,102.9 sq km (425.8 sq mi). New York covers 783.84 sqkm (302.643 sq mi). Now compare populations: Auckland 1.6 million; New York 8.7 million. NZ cities tend to grow out, not up. Besides the only air traffic would be the air taxis, so there’s no need to look out for idiot drivers (assuming we can solve the drone problem).

            Liked by 1 person

          • makagutu says:

            Having small populations has its advantages

            Liked by 2 people

          • Barry says:

            Having many earthquakes makes it unwise to build upwards so our urban areas sprawl. The sprawl makes the cost of infrastructure expensive, especially public transport. Air taxis simply need the vehicle, nothing like roads or rail to travel on. They are being trialled at present and the developers claim a fleet of the air taxis will be in regular service by 2025. I’m not holding my breath though.

            Liked by 1 person

          • makagutu says:

            I think such constrains make people become quite innovative. How do they propose to solve the parking problem and even drift caused by wind drafts?

            Liked by 2 people

          • Barry says:

            That’s why the testing and trialing it taking place

            Liked by 1 person

  10. Public transport problems in Nairobi: A Study of the management and operations of Kenya Bus Services (K.B.S.) Limited

    Liked by 1 person

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