8 January 2018
As Nairobi continues to grow as the social and economic hub of Kenya, so does its traffic congestion. To address that concern, WYG is helping the Kenya Urban Roads Authority implement an Intelligent Transport System.
Funded by the Kenyan government and the World Bank under the National Urban Transport Improvement Project Programme, the project aims to deliver modern computer and communications technologies to reduce congestion and accidents. It also seeks to support real-time management of road networks to all road users’ benefit, including pedestrians.
To transform the traffic networks, WYG is collaborating with German consultancies, Gauff Consultants and Schlothauer & Wauer GmbH, in designing a hundred various traffic junctions. Alongside those, we are installing an automated traffic management centre that will relay traffic information based on data collated through the system via devices such as red-light enforcement cameras. CCTV and variable message signs showing traffic information will also be implemented as additional traffic control measures.
John Pattinson, transport expert at WYG, emphasised the significant impact the upgrades will have on Nairobi, a city suffering from unregulated driving. That lack of regulation has led to poor driving behaviour causing many serious accidents. The high economic growth in the region only amplifies this issue.
To combat the congestion, the City authorities employ hundreds of police to manage key junctions. The new junctions will release these officers to fight crime, a significant secondary benefit of the junctions.
John said: “There’s a severe lack of roads and network structures in Nairobi, making it very, very congested. A journey that would take you 20 minutes off-peak can take you two hours during peak hours. People have to put up with this in their commutes, each direction, on a daily basis.”
The new junctions will also support other transport proposals being developed in the city. Like many other African cities, Nairobi has a loosely regulated public transport system based on private mini-buses. The City is developing new Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) routes that will provide high-quality, frequent-bus services on key corridors. The new traffic signal junctions will support these services and manage the interaction between private vehicles and the new buses.
While the use of technology and process automation will undoubtedly help reduce congestion and manage daily travel responsiveness, it also yields many other benefits, including improved safety and air quality, a wealth of data on traffic flow, better planning of new infrastructure, and more.
Implementing the traffic infrastructure is only part of the ongoing puzzle, however. In fact, John stressed that maintenance and public acceptance are equally significant challenges.
John said: “In places where traffic signals are working, people will obey the signals, but when they are not working well, the driver behaviour starts to break down. Maintenance is key and the new contract will include maintenance of the new junctions. We will also be implementing a public education programme alongside the work we’re doing so people can understand traffic signals, how they work, and what they’re supposed to when they get there.”
Our experts are currently in the project’s first phase (15 months), planning and designing, with tender documents expected for completion by next spring. Implementation, as part of the second phase of the consultancy work (66 months) is thereafter set to commence in 2019. During this phase, our team plans to supervise the implementation and provide oversight and monitoring for the new system including the implementation of a Traffic Management Centre.
The road ahead may be long, but we’re excited at WYG about rising to the challenge of supporting a higher standard of transportation to Nairobi. We look forward to our continued collaborations and endeavours to promote stability in Africa.