In the lead up to the signing of an agreement that will see increased funding go to urban transport, the European Union confirmed that work has started on 16 kilometres of road links in Nairobi designed to ease congestion between major junctions.
The links will ease major congestion hotspots by linking the city’s arteries, such as Limuru Road to Waiyaki Way and Thika Road, and linking Enterprise Road to Mombasa Road.
Eight road and pedestrian links in all will be built, with Sh3.4 billion provided by the European Union, in grants not loans.
An important part of the works is to ensure the large number of Nairobi’s pedestrians benefit too.
Street lights will be installed and all the roads will have pavement constructed alongside the highway.
In addition, two new walking or cycling-specific routes will be built along Rabai Road and Lusaka Road.
Planning and work has been in collaboration with Ministry of Transport and the Kenyan Urban Roads Authority, who are providing Sh1.5 billion, to build 21 kilometres of footpaths and cycleways.
Traffic management procedures will be put in place while the work takes place to ensure cars keep moving.
Lodewijk Briet, the European Union Ambassador to Kenya, said: “Nairobi’s business and growth is being held back by jams.
These links are designed to fill-in the missing parts of Nairobi’s road layout — mostly in the east — and ease congestion and improve safety for the city’s commuters and pedestrians.
No one doubts the economic cost of congestion to Nairobi.
It could be anywhere between Sh50 million to Sh200 million every day, depending on which analysis you look at.
Further planning and investment will be needed, particularly in buses and public transport.”
A recent report from the Japanese development agency, JICA, and commissioned by the Nairobi City Council showed that in 2013 the average speed of traffic in the capital was 40km/h, but this is forecast to halve in the next 15 years if there is no extra transport capacity.
Nairobi’s population is expected to double to seven million by 2030 and, at the same time, car ownership is set to rise from a quarter of the capital’s households 10 years ago to half the city’s population by 2025.
Affordable mass transit is vital for the many of the capital’s workers.
Many of the urban poor walk, and pedestrians accounted for some 40 per cent of travel in the city last year.
There are associated time-losses and a drop in national productivity, as well as security and safety issues for pedestrians, which is why the European Union has made pedestrian routes an important part of this project.
Work is expected to be complete by 2016.