World Bank advances 25.2 billion Ksh for rail, road transport systems

A traffic snarl-up along Lang’ata Road, Nairobi.

Posted on 03 August 2012 by David Herbling in The Business Daily

The World Bank has advanced Kenya Sh25.2 billion ($300 million) to expand the capacity of Uhuru highway, which bisects Nairobi’s central business district, and to initiate a rapid bus transit and commuter rail system.

The major components of the project include the construction of two additional lanes from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to Nyayo Stadium from where an elevated roadway with two lanes on either side will be erected to the roundabout.

The project, expected to reduce traffic congestion in Nairobi and facilitate quicker movement of goods and persons transiting through the capital city, also includes the addition of two lanes from Museum Hill to Uthiru and the rehabilitation of the existing carriageway to Rironi.

“By helping to ease traffic congestion and develop a modern commuter system, this project will enable Nairobi to remain a great city in which to live and to do business,” said Johannes Zutt, World Bank Country Director for Kenya.

The Kenyan government will invest ($113 million) in the 55 kilometre long infrastructural undertaking that will also expand access roads to the country’s major airport and Inland Container Depot.

“Developing public transport systems that move large numbers of commuters will relieve the worsening traffic congestion, and improve the local business climate,” said Mr Josphat Sasia, the project’s team leader.

Part of the loan will also be used by Kenya Railways to finance the construction of a metro rail system in Nairobi. Developments of bypasses in Kisumu and Meru have also been factored in the credit line. The funding brings the total amount of transport related investments in Kenya by the Bretton Woods institution to Sh131 billion ($1.56 billion).

A total of 1,322 people carrying out informal businesses on temporary stands and kiosks along the JKIA – Rironi road side shall be affected by the planned project and the government has already worked out a Resettlement Plan income restoration (IR) scheme to ensure that no persons are left worse off than they were before the project.

2 thoughts on “World Bank advances 25.2 billion Ksh for rail, road transport systems

  1. A total amount of of Kshs 25.2 billion ($300 million) has been advanced to Kenya by the World Bank to expand the capacity of Uhuru highway and to initiate a rapid bus transit and commuter rail system in Nairobi. The key justification for the funding is that the project is ‘expected to reduce traffic congestion in Nairobi and facilitate quicker movement of goods and persons transiting through the capital city’. The key justification that this construction will reduce congestion and facilitate quicker movements make ready intuitive appeal to a population that believes that solution to traffic congestion lies in construction of more roads for motor vehicles and rails. There is one danger that we should not loose sight of. To what extent are we ensuring that these developments do not compromise the safety of pedestrians and cyclists? Quite sombre is the fact that pedestrians have consistently born the heaviest burden of transport fatalities in the city of Nairobi. Over 70% of traffic deaths reported in Nairobi are pedestrians. The much talked about Thika Highway is already attracting attention because of very high pedestrian fatalities reported there. The major reason for this disproportion is attributed to the lack of supportive infrastructure for these category of road users or the the neglect of surrounding context in the planning and construction of the highway. Very fast motor vehicles transect communities that have to do business and cross the roads constantly at close intervals. Although the World Bank recommends that 10% of the funding on roads should be used on ensuring safety, the persistent overepresentation of pedestrians in traffic fatalities in our urban set up is a blinking indicator and a reminder that a major and radical intervention is needed to alter this situation. This radical shift should be in the way we plan our transport systems and the extent to which we embrace an all inclusive transport planning. To what degree, for instance, do we take into account pedestrians and cyclists in this planning? Are they inbuilt or add-on in our planning? It may appear that Kshs 25.2 billion is a huge amount of money that should not be “trivialized” by diverting attention to pedestrians and cyclists. The argument would be advanced that these road users should learn how to cope up with development of roads and learn to respect traffic rules. But I contend that we need to advance a more informed argument to justify attention to non-motorized transport users. We need to reckons how much funding is now spent in health facilities treating and caring for traffic casualties, and the ever increasing number of people suffering from non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular , neuropsychiatric conditions and other costs born by society though generation of greenhouse emissions, to name only but a few, then we can really appreciate the need to encourage safety of pedestrians and cyclists in our transport planning. As we plan the use of Kshs 25 billion, let not the huge sum of money swallow the interest of the vulnerable road users.

  2. It’s great that they are putting in provisions for public transport! It’s important that the city continues to grow in such a way that encourages people to use public transport. Planning for walkable and accessible neighborhoods is also part of the equation.

    Does anyone know if the resettlement plan is available to the public? I am interested to see how they plan to deal with the relocation of the stands and kiosks. The Resettlement Action Plan for Thika Highway has been impossible to locate…

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