Thursday, September 6, 2007

Public transport in Nairobi

Public transport in Nairobi especially in the evening when schools have opened is terrible, particularly during weekdays.

Many people have complained and I have also experienced it in different parts of the City center and its outskirts.

This leaves me wondering, is it caused by the jam, the Police, shortage of public transport vehicles or population rise in Nairobi city.

The jam towards the City center and outside is bad in the morning and evening. Many motorists working outside the City center avoid roads that pass through the city center but at times one cannot avoid it. Public transport drivers in most cases also avoid coming to the City center. They fear being caught up by police for breaking traffic rules.

Most of them say even when their vehicles are perfect, they have all documents required and the full uniform, Police will always look for reasons to apprehend them. Making them part with a lot of money to secure their release through the court, police station fines or bribes. Hence they prefer taking short distances where they will not encounter police officers

Instead most Matatus (mini buses) decide to turn at different stops away from the City. They will turn at Ngong road, Kenyatta hospital, Nyayo stadium, City stadium, Serena, Westlands etc… depending on where they come from.

This leaves passengers waiting for them in town stranded or jostle for the few vehicles that reach the City center. Those who cannot push wait until late when the situation improves from 7pm onwards. Some routes have queues others don’t, hence the fight for those vehicles that go to queues at different bus stops in the city center. The queues are also normally very long.

The same problem applies to public transport buses and mini buses plying upcountry routes. You will notice people with all kinds of luggage waiting for vehicles, one would wonder if they would get transport.

This situation is the same in all bus stops within and around the City center. Kencom, Ambassador, Bus station, Machakos Bus station, Railways, Globe round about, Bomblast, Agip, St. Peter’s, City stadium, Fire Brigade, Commercial, Tusker,Nyayo stadium Etc…

From City Stadium to Landies Road one will notice many people walking from the City center or even as far as community to City stadium to get Matatus and buses to Eastlands, others from the other side of Nairobi walk to Kenyatta, Nyayo stadium etc….

The situation in the evening is pathetic. At least in the morning one can leave the house or home early to catch a bus or a matatu to get to work early. However this is not possible in the evening because one cannot leave work early. It is sad when you see women and children with luggage stranded, especially those that arrive in the evening from upcountry and even school children.

The truth of the matter is that the situation got worse when public transport rules were effected; this was a good move because matatu crews were very rowdy before (at least some of them have improved), however there have been no signs of improvement in public transport since then. This saw Kenya Bus collapsing, in its place came City hopper whose schedules cannot be predicted like the former Kenya Bus. They don’t also ply some routes I wonder why. At least now Kenya Bus has been revived but they are few and they are not in full operation like they were before.

Train operations seem not to have picked up since Rift Valley Railways Consortium took over from Kenya Railways Corporation. Trains can carry a lot of passengers and improve the situation.

The Matatu industry has taken advantage of this situation to hike fares. The few ones that come into town and find crowds of people waiting will hike their fares because they know people have to go home in the evening. This leaves people with low income with no option but to walk home.

Many people are moving away from City estates to centers in the outskirts of Nairobi like Ngong , Athi River, Ruai etc., due to congestion or to their own homes. Many depending on public transport to those places really suffer. Some of these places are not densely populated as city estates, with no street lights making some places very insecure at night. So getting home late due to shortage of public transport is very risky for many.

It is my wish that the current government or the next government could come up with strategies to solve this problem.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this issue.Nairobi is increasingly becoming a hardship town because of this.When you have your own car it becomes even more difficult,

I wish Abwambo will come up with the pentagon formula to liberate us from this uncaring govermnent.The M/ benz the minister for nothing are driving are enought to fix major roads in Nairobi.

I am fed up.

Phil said...

Sue, when the architectural society in this country recommended that the capital city should be relocated, congestion was one of the reasons they put forward. Many people thought they were lookng for biashara. It doesnt need a rocket scientist to discern that population growth is not parallel to infrustructure development.

You only talk of public transport. How about public recreational facilities. (please dont think of Uhuru Park only). How about the sewarage system (ask Ruai residents), garbage dumping (ask Dandora residents)...housing (ask Mathare and Kibera residents) and so forth? Social services like schools and hospitals are mostly private. When did you last here of new government secondary school or hospital developed for the public? Instead, everything is the hands of inept private developers in cahoots with government officers whose interest is driven by commercial gain rather than quality public service.

The colonialists planned Nairobi so well. You only need to visit old estates like Woodley or Jericho to understand this. They also had satelite shopping centres like Adams, Spring Valley,
Because of the expiry of the master plan, the city has for the last decades or two witnessed haphazard and unplanned development. Population explosion is something the NCC town planners have never taken into account. The same railway line they built in 1900 is still in use more than 100 years later...

Until we get the political will, Nairobians will continue to suffer and quality of life will continue to go down. This country is crying for change. And during Raila's vision launch, his message was 1, Infrastructure, 2, Infrustructure and 3, Infrastructure.

Ssembonge said...

The traffic jam in nairobi is mainly brought about by the uncordinated directions by traffic police. I'm certain if they employ the use of traffic lights and enforce them, then the flow traffic can be smooth.

Traffic lights when set up correctly such that they function as a system can ease the congestion into and out of the city.

The police just manage the flow of traffic in roundabouts such that you could have one directing traffic out of sync with the rest.

in any case, why did they bother installing traffic lights?

Sue said...

Phil you are right, its not only about public transport, its about congestion. Public facilities are dilapidated, I have not heard of new schools, yet students have increased with free primary education.

You mentioned hospitals I was wondering about the Kenyatta Hospital, no expansion no new public hospitals. I think the government should have another big hospital in Eastlands for people from Thika, Eastalands, Ruai and Athi River. Imagine a patient being rushed to Kenyatta from those areas; being caught up in the jam, people die on the way.

Talk about old estates, if someone who left the country in the 1980s would came back now, they would die of shock. There used to be tarmac all over to the estates. NCC used to collect garbage from metal bins they supplied everyone. Instead of things getting better, things have changed for the worst.

The traffic is terrible, just like Ssembonge says, police cannot coordinate properly; traffic lights in some places are like flowers.

Thanks for reminding me about Raila’s vision “1.Infrastructure,2.Infrastructure, 3. Infrastructure”. This is the major change required in Kenya.

Rozy said...

Sue I don't want to sound political but the truth is that whenever the President is going or coming from the airport. All roads in Nairobi come to a stand still for one hour or more.

Like this morning I was on Ngong Road for one hour from Adams to City mortuary round about. Its not that I like Moi but in his days the jam would be cleared faster when he was passing. He used part of Ngong road nearly daily from his Kabarnet Gardens home.

No wonder someone called Kiss when the President was in Mombasa telling Caro to tell the President to come back to Nairobi. He tour was causing a terrible Jam which they are no used to.

Phil said...

The situation on Ngong Road, Uhuru Highway and Outer Ring is bad enough when the Prezzo is indoors.. It becomes a nightmare anytime he has to go to the airport or has some state function in the city. Today was made worse by University of Nairobi graduation ceremony at their rugby pitch opposite KBC, and then those bastards at NCC chose to paint road markings on Uhuru Highway near the casino today. So you can imagine sitting in a jam for 3 hours from Mombasa Road to Westlands this westlands. Many ramshackles overheat and breakdown.

Why cant the prezzo use a chopper? its cheaper than the jet plus the escort at take off and on landing. The cost of prezzo induced jams is estimated to cost the economy 3 billion each year, lost man hours, fuel, etc. etc. That is enough to establish several fully equipped secondary boarding schools. And why cant these graduations be taken to kasarani or better still be held on weekends like a sato? And why, pray, cant NCC paint road markings on sundays or at night??? Its a classic case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing - and in the process costing the economy loads of cash with traffic snarl-ups!

Sue said...

True prezzo should use a chopper to the airport to save us the hassle.

NCC guys cannot paint on weekends, but when it comes to chasing hawkers they will do it even at night because of what they will pocket.

Rozy I know Ngong road is a nightmare these days. I prefer using Yaya route.